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Artist’s Burn Art Guidelines

Artist’s Burn Art Guidelines


This page is about art that is burned at an AZ Burners event. The list is not intended to be all-inclusive, and in all cases the judgement of the Fire Art Team. The Fire Art Policies page is more inclusive, including information about propane, performances, etc.

These guidelines are based on over 25 years of experience with public burn art in
the Burning Man Community and advice from worldwide experts in the safe
design and operation of fire art and flame effects. Where appropriate, these
guidelines are harmonized with the requirements of NFPA 50: LP Gas Code and
NFPA 160: Use of Flame Effects Before an Audience.

This document is not intended to be an instruction manual – it is expected
that fire art fabricators get the instruction, training and research needed for
proper operation of their art. If you have questions, please ask the Art Team at

Large Burnable Structures

Large Burnable Structures are essentially big bonfires, assembled with artistic
intent. These burns are large, carefully scheduled, and demand huge resources.
They are prohibited during any stage of burn ban.

Structure Guidelines

  • Materials must be fully combustible, or easily removed after burning. If metal components are needed, mild steel is recommended for easy removal by magnet-rake. Aluminum and Stainless Steel can be very difficult to remove from the ashes. Aluminum can also melt into small globs.
  • Paper or cloth are discouraged due to high ember production. If a piece has much of these materials, the artist will probably be asked to remove them prior to the burn.
  • Paint should be kept to a minimum, and prefer latex, tempera, milk or other “less toxic” varieties. Paint should be thinned with water wherever possible to reduce the amount of non-wood material being burned.
  • Structures should be designed for an orderly collapse – top-heavy structures should have weak-points for collapse. Avoiding thick vertical beams will result in a quicker collapse.
  • Use of accelerants must be approved by the fire lead. If accelerants are used to initiate burning, recommended fuels are 100% Diesel Fuel or 20% Gasoline/80% Diesel blend. 100% Gasoline or White Gas are not permitted. A huge fire can be lit with careful lighting and 2-3 gallons of accelerant. If you think you need more you should be reevaluating how your structure will burn. The fire lead usually has accelerant on site, and the artist goes along with whatever that is.
  • Pyrotechnics are not allowed – no pyrotechnic chemical effects may be included. Limited use of colorants in liquid fuel may be allowable with discussion.

Site Guidelines

  • The minimum “inner perimeter” beyond which no one should enter during burning should be 1.5X the height of the sculpture, measured from the edge of the structure. The actual safe inner perimeter dimensions may change based on the type of structure, effects in use, and conditions.
  • The minimum “outer perimeter” beyond which no participants should enter during burning should be 2.0X the height of the sculpture, measured from the edge of the structure. The actual safe outer perimeter dimensions may change based on the type of structure, effects in use, and conditions.
  • Site protection during burning should consist of a minimum of 3 pressurized water extinguishers, the BAMF Fire Apparatus and Draft Tank, and 6 BAMF Fire volunteers. Actual requirements and staffing are dependent on the situation.

General Guidelines

  • Structure artists are expected to provide accelerants, and their lighting instrument of choice (8’ wooden stick with road flare securely attached is a recommended method). The Fire Art team can advise on choices, but procurement is an artist responsibility.
  • The artist may light the structure themselves, or ask for assistance from the Fire Art team. In all cases the Fire Art team has discretion on who may light the structure, and may override in cases such as fuel-contaminated clothing, or intoxication. Individuals involved in fueling the sculpture cannot also light the structure.
  • Saguaro Man provides Fire volunteers and Rangers for primary perimeter of the art burns, but the artist may serve as an additional perimeter volunteer if desired.
  • For burns other than the Temple, the artist is responsible for supplying perimeter volunteers – enough to span the circumference of the perimeter at 10’ intervals.
  • It is an artist responsibility to mind the final burn pile, raking regularly to ensure complete combustion of all wood. Careful tending will result in dramatically easier cleanup. Seek volunteers for this task early – many people like to whittle the night away on a camp-chair near a fire – give this person a rake and shovel and they are your crew!
  • Final Leave No Trace planning is an artist responsibility. Removal of ashes and unburned metal or debris is the artist’s responsibility.
  • Presenting a burn plan is an artist responsibility. Burn plans, at a minimum, will contain the following information:
    • Diagram of the sculpture, showing max height and diameter, the inner perimeter (1.5X), and the outer perimeter (2.0X) dimensions, and indicating location where structure is to be lit.
    • Team list, including who will be preparing the structure for burning, who will apply fuel to the structure, who is lighting the structure, and who is managing the final burn-down of the ashes for cleanup.
    • Accelerant fuel requirements.
    • Any special actions needed to prepare the sculpture for burning (adding mementos, removing flame effects, weakening the structure, etc.).
    • Proposed timeline for the burn, from closing the sculpture to the public through cleanup. NOTE: Exact timing will get worked out in concert with Conclave, Fire Team and Rangers – the intent of the artist’s initial timeline is to capture all of the actions needed, put them in order, and assign a time estimate.

If the Burn Does Not Happen

  • Sometimes art cannot be burned due to weather or other circumstances.
  • We will work with the artist to figure out the best next step in this scenario.
  • In some cases the artist may be asked to remove the piece from the land. A reasonable time frame will be allowed. We try to avoid this, but we are not in control of everything.
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