10 Renegade Fire Jam Safety Issues & Solutions

Editor’s note: We encourage people to get safety training and to have trained fire safety personnel who have actually extinguished tools before present with fire blankets and at the ready when spinning and in general, we support the NAFAA recommendations for fire safety. Fire jam’s are a unique situation where the line between participant and audience (particularly photographers and videographers) is often blurred and as a result, have a special set of challenges this article endeavors to address. 

For almost half a decade, I’ve facilitated a monthly fire jam in San Francisco and in recent months when I have not been present at the jam to tell people what to do, apparently, more and more safety issues have come up. In watching this unfold and talking with the people around me, it became clear that communication of what the issues are and some solutions to them might really serve the community.

Here’s a recap of 10 Renegade Fire Jam Safety Issues & Their Solutions! Thanks for taking the time to read and consider your impact on others.

Challenge 1: Oil based fuel all over the ground & people slipping because oil doesn’t evaporate

  • Solution 1: Spin out if you’re using tiki fuel, kerosine or lamp oil and do NOT attempt a ground score. Be sure to spin out away from the main spinning area.
  • Solution 2: Recognize that you’re oil based fuel will not, unlike white gas, evaporate. It is a safety hazard for the other artists and the photographers to have to walk in your oil. Not only that, it leaves residue the next day. this really is not okay.
  • Solution 3: Don’t fully soak the tool so that you won’t have spray coming off the tool.

Challenge 2: People not spinning the prop are getting sprayed with fuel after artists allegedly spin out

  • Solution 1: Spin out better — this means harder and longer
  • Solution 2: Ask the crowd to move back to creFire Renegade Problems & Solutionsate more space.
  • Solution 3: Don’t fully soak the tool so that you won’t have spray coming off the tool.
  • Solution 4: When starting your burn, do slower moves less likely to create spray at the start of the burn.

Challenge 3: People playing fire tag** in the main spin space putting photographers and non-players at risk

  • Solution 1: Move the game into a designated area and make that the “field” of play that’s “in bounds”.  This may require moving the depot though it will address a ton of safety issues including keeping the game contained.
  • Solution 2: Inform everyone where the “in bounds” area for the game is before you start playing and actually get people to move out of the game space before you start.

Challenge 4: There is not enough space between where the dancers are spinning and the fuel depot for there to be a 25′ distance, the legal requirement for a permitted event in SF (and the NAFAA recommendation for space is 30′ between depot and audience/smoking). (Frankly, we haven’t had enough space for there to be 15′ and I’ve seen people spinning less than 10 people from the depot so this is an actual thing, not just what we’d like ideally.)

  • Solution 1: Walk farther out into the open space and draw the photographers and crowd with you.
  • Solution 2: Move the depot farther from the location where you’ll be spinning
  • Solution 3: Ask the photographers and crowd to move to make space for you to spin farther from the depot.

Challenge 5: The spinning space is fine early in the night when there’s only a few people spinning but the crowd gathers and then the space is too small for more spinners later and everyone feels cramped.

  • Solution 1: Communicate with other spinners, photographers and the audience.
  • Solution 2: Ask the audience to move and if you need to, do it with your lit prop. literally, push them back. Trust me on this, it will work.

Challenge 6: People putting the wrong fuel in other people’s dip buckets and people getting burned later because they are eating the wrong fuel and don’t know it until it’s too late.

  • Solution 1: Bring your own dip bucket
  • Solution 2: Don’t use other people’s bucket’s without express permission in the moment from them. Even if you’ve used someone’s bucket in the past, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can that night or that they have the same fuel in there that evening, so be aware that you may not know all the details.

Challenge 7: People using other people’s dip cans without permission: Remember an open can is not permission to use it!

  • Solution 1: Bring your own dip container
  • Solution 2: Get permission to use another person’s dipping bucket. There’s a lot of reasons they may not want to share and they have a right to say ‘no,’ so please respect that and don’t assume an open bucket is a ‘yes’.

Beginner Poi Moves Fire Dancing Class SeriesChallenge 8: Open dip cans spilling on the plaza

  • Solution 1: make sure you have a dip bucket with a lid
  • Solution 2: put the lid on the can before you go spin fire.
  • Solution 3: bring a catch pan to collect stray fuel and recycle it into your fuel storage (and still close your dip can)

Challenge 9: Fire breathers leaving residue in an area that is challenging for the safety of others

  • Solution 1: Breathe off to the side
  • Solution 2: Alert those near where you’ll be breathing that it will happen so they are safe
  • Solution 3: Tell the photographers so you can take them with you and they get good photos!

Challenge 10: Any one of the issues 1-9 is happening, people see it happening, people don’t feel safe yet no one is doing anything about it. IMO, this is the worst problem.

  • Solution 1: Take action and say something.
  • Solution 2: If you don’t feel comfortable taking action alone, talk to others and enroll them in taking action as a group and take action together
  • Solution 3: Walk away.
  • Solution 4: Start your own circle elsewhere.

**Fire Tag: One person has a lit tool; everyone else has soaked tools; people run around and the lit one tries to tag the unlit ones and variants around that sort of concept.

Subscribe to our newsletter for mailbox delivery of this and other articles written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek professional guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <that pretty little at symbol> TempleOfPoi <daaaaaaaught> com).

3 thoughts on “10 Renegade Fire Jam Safety Issues & Solutions

Add yours

  1. Some good advice – just a general note I’d add is there should be a couple fire spinners on stand by watching and with safety equipment on stand by – obviously the fire performers can cycle this throughout the evening. I think it helps address the issue of people (audience included) feeling safe.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: