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Review – Dr Christian Lohrer – BAM

This book gives a very comprehensive overview of the world of fireworks. It comprises – amongst others – information on historical developments of firework displays, introduces the large variety of(sub-) types and categories, identifies possible hazards to be considered during the planning offirework displays and gives recommendations in case of accidents/incidents.

Especially the description of the probabilistic approach of assessing risks (based on hazards in combination with frequencies) highlights a promising alternative in a field that seems currently be dominated by simple deterministic methods in many countries. Moreover, the book provides information on latest legislationas well as standardisation aspects and gives guidance on the fireworks event planning not only to the users (with or without specialist knowledge) but also to the enforcers, who are dealing with the assessments of professional firework displays prior to the permission of these.

It should therefore be considered, to include this book in respective national training courses, which form the basis of licensing systems with regard to the training of “persons with specialist knowledge” in Europe. Taking this into account, it is recommended to translate this book to other languages in order to allow a broader community to share the information provided in this book.

October 2011

Review – Prof Chris Bishop – Microsoft Research

Tom Smith is to be congratulated on putting together this delightful book on the theme of firework displays. Aimed at display firers, both amateur and professional, this book covers an impressive range of theoretical and practical topics, making it unique in the fireworks literature.

Tom brings enormous experience in the fireworks industry, including a period as display manager of Kimbolton Fireworks, during which time Kimbolton won several firework competitions. More recently he has acted as a consultant for the London Millennium celebrations, the Athens Olympic Games, and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Together with his co-authors, Tom has assembled a truly comprehensive treatise, covering almost every aspect of firework displays, from a taxonomy of fireworks to display design, and from firework competitions to environmental impact. The chapter on risk assessment is particularly valuable, and emphasises the crucial distinction between risk and hazard, as well as adopting a very practical approach to the overall evaluation of risk.

For amateur firers the book will prove to be especially valuable. Amateurs often lack the support network, as well as the formal and informal apprenticeship opportunities, afforded to the professional. Access to the wealth of experience and information captured in this book can only lead to improved safety levels and to enhanced artistic content in amateur displays.

Beautifully illustrated, the book is also well written and a pleasure to read. Even the topic of legal issues, a subject with plenty of soporific potential, is leavened with ample personal interpretation and perspective. As a relative newcomer to the world of firework displays, I found the book to be hugely informative. This superb and comprehensive text undoubtedly has a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in fireworks and firework displays.

Professor Chris Bishop

Vice President, The Royal Institution
Distinguished Scientist, Microsoft Research

March 2011


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