The Firelinx Generation 3 Pyrotechnic Controller system is the story of a fundamental change in the Live Show industry. Firelinx elevates the expectation of safety where pyrotechnics are used in live shows. It is the only pyrotechnic control product that meets and exceeds the fault checking requirements suggested by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 1126 Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics Before a Proximate Audience.
In 1993 Birket Engineering designed, built, and commissioned the pyro control system for Treasure Island at the Mirage’s Buccaneer Bay stunt show in Las Vegas. Just a few weeks after opening, Birket got a call that the unthinkable had happened. A pyro device had exploded beneath the feet of two actors. Fortunately, they recovered from their injuries, but the event called everything into question. Birket designs safety control systems – we are supposed to make this impossible.
Glenn Birket got on a plane that day and spent over a week trying to figure out what had happened. It turned out the local staff had made a pair of seemingly harmless modifications introducing a pair of ground faults. They had created two unexpected electrical paths through the earth’s ground, creating the conditions for the unintended explosion.
We realized that this could happen to anyone, even using a modern pyrotechnic control system, used by the largest operators according to best practices and NFPA standards. Pyrotechnicians in the live show industry seemed to accept this. We knew that it didn’t have to be that way.
Glenn set about changing the industry. By 2001 Glenn was a member of the NFPA’s Technical Committee on Special Effects, the body responsible for the NFPA 1126 standards language. The NFPA initially resisted change, but in 2005, How to follow NFPA 1126 – Use of Pyrotechnics before a Proximate Audience – and get hurt anyway, an article explaining the ground fault event and the suggested electrical circuit solution, appeared in the Spring 2005 Birket Engineering News industry newsletter. The article was also accepted for publication in the Summer 2005 ESTA Protocol magazine.
Upon publication in Protocol, NFPA called. The NFPA 1126 2006 Edition incorporated the very suggested circuit solution described in the Birket newsletter and Protocol to permit and encourage fault detection, along with other language improvements. With the standards language in place, Birket began the design of a pyrotechnic controller product that realized NFPA suggested practice and included additional features not available elsewhere.
A decade was spent in design and in conversations with the Live Show Pyrotechnic industry in order to create a commercial product with optimal safety features and packaging, culminating in the release of Firelinx Generation 3 in 2020.