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Smoke and Soot will destroy your production gear

The aftereffects of pyro


Pyrotechnics look great and the audience loves the effect. But you must be aware of the aftereffects. One aspect of pyrotechnics (pyro) is that when launched or detonated very close to the fixtures, or where the smoke and soot contact electronics, the exhaust will adversely affect everything it comes in contact with. Run a quick Google search on soot and discover the main effects of smoke and soot. While this revelation may hit you like a ton of old PAR 64s, let me give you some background information. In the 90's I worked with insurance companies formulating best practices for cleaning and restoring electronics after fire incidents. With my years of experience in the insurance industry, and with what I have seen in electronics exposed to fire and smoke, I have witnessed in production equipment. With fire there is smoke, and where there is smoke, there is soot. Soot turns into various forms of horrible acids, and this acid can, and will destroy gear; if not mitigated, or rescued, quickly. Soot especially eats away at soft plastics, filters, rather quickly, causing them to reduce in effectiveness and allowing harmful acids to further infiltrate the production equipment, causing stainless steel components to rust and allowing voltage to travel and find new paths on circuit boards. Did I mention that soot conducts electricity?

So, what can you do? I can draw this out and site many articles, studies, and investigations; I will list a few links at the bottom if you desire more technical information. Below is a very stringent “plan of action.” If you need convincing, read this detailed report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

Yes, I do know that there are pyro "simulators" and effect generators that do not release smoke and soot. You are responsible for your equipment. The following is a very stringent protocol. 


Plan of Action

Before using any of the following recommendations, use personal protection equipment for the cleaning and servicing of equipment exposed to the by-products of pyrotechnics and/or soot, according to company policy and procedures. If you need additional guidelines, please follow EPA standards for personal protective equipment.

Mitigate Damage Exterior

    1. Dry clean exterior of the equipment and surrounding mounting plates and support frames. First vacuum and then wipe down with a dry cleaning sponge
    2. Using a sponge, wet clean surfaces using a restoration industry accepted cleaner. One example is PreVasive Natureal' Heavy Duty Cleaner.
    3. Mitigate exterior metal surface damage by using a metal cleaner or a penetrating lubricant such as WD-40.
    4. Repeat the first two steps after every exposure to a pyrotechnics event.
    5. Replace all filters on all of the fixtures. Followed by a plan to replace all filters on a weekly basis until the establishment of an extended schedule based on filter decomposition due to chemical exposure.

Mitigate Damage Interior

    1. Prepare and execute an expedited schedule to remove gear for interior cleaning, and the replacement of components based on the following recommendations.
    2. Follow the manufactures service manual or the accepted company procedures for the opening and service of the item.
    3. Follow company policy and use anti-static safeguards.
    4. Use low pressure compressed air to remove loose particles from the interior of the equipment. Take measures to ensure that fans and other movable items are secure and do not spin fans while air pressure is applied. A small vacuum may be applied to gather the particles that are dislodged; however, you should NOT attempt to actually vacuum any of the actual interior electronic components.
    5. Remove all interior components of the gear and mitigate interior fixture housing metal corrosion, and other damage, by using a metal cleaner or a penetrating lubricant such as WD-40.
    6. Replace power supplies, and any other components that are not functioning properly including sensors and motors.
    7. Re-assemble the item and test for proper operation according to factory standards.
    8. Return the component to production and use preventive maintenance procedures to protect the equipment.

Preventive Maintenance Procedures

Follow these steps after every exposure to a pyrotechnics event.

Step 1. Don't place gear near pyrotechnics

Step 2. Don't use pyrotechnics


For additional information, use Google, or follow these Links

Literature review from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

Article from a restoration company:

What is soot?:

Dry Cleaning Sponge:




Andy Cass