Spark Fountains — Are They Safe for Your Event?

“Spark fountains” are an exciting special effect that you may have seen on Instagram — big beautiful displays of glittering sparks shooting like magic from small black boxes. So fun! However, many people are surprised to learn that these devices have strict fire code requirements to operate. Here’s some background on the effect and how you can feature it safely and legally at your events.

In 2016, we were in Las Vegas at a lighting trade show where Sparktacular debuted the first “cold spark fountains” to great acclaim. We were impressed and happily put down a deposit. Sparktacular was confident that — despite looking exactly like a pyrotechnic effect — they would quickly convince fire safety professionals that these were not actually pyrotechnics, and thus safe to use everywhere.

Unfortunately, this did not prove true.

In January 2017, Sparktacular sent a company representative to meet with us and Michael Frediani, Captain of Compliance and Special Events at the Seattle Fire Department. Sparktacular demoed their product and shared detailed material safety information.

Immediately afterward, overruling Sparktacular’s marketing claims, the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) decided to classify all “indoor spark fountains” as pyrotechnics.

The SFD’s cautionary stance has been further cemented by the National Fire Protection Agency NFPA #1126, which recommends that all municipal fire departments treat these devices as pyrotechnics, which many cities have followed.

There are very clear requirements to legally operate these devices in Seattle:
  1. First, spark fountains can only be used in venues pre-approved by the Seattle Fire Department for indoor fire performances. The list of approved venues is very short and can be found at this link.
  2. Second, vendors using spark fountains must have a valid Washington State pyrotechnic license, SFD permit #2511, and all corresponding liability insurance. Info on applying for this license and this permit is here and here.
  3. Third, every event where spark fountains will be used requires its own unique per-occasion permit, either #7801.1 (outdoor) or #7802 (indoor). These permits are costly, at $1556 (outdoor) and $825 (indoor). Details can be found here.

Penalties for ignoring fire code regulations are severe, both for venues where the effect is used, and for vendors providing the effect.

Instead of purchasing spark fountains ourselves, we’ve chosen to partner with an established special effects company that specializes in safe pyrotechnics. We are happy to help bring these beautiful effects to your event, always respecting the permits and safety rules.

If you have questions or would like to discuss featuring spark fountains at an upcoming event, we’d love to hear from you!

Contact us today to discuss lighting and special effects for your event!