Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Fireworks a many-splendored thing
Modern pyrotechnics shoot rockets about 4,000 feet high

The pyrotechnics set to go off tonight are not your grandfather's bottle rockets or Roman candles.

"The largest firecracker sold is 55 grams; ours have 3 pounds of powder," said lead pyrotechnician David Frank Jr.

Frank's family-owned and operated company, now on its third generation, has been putting on pyrotechnic displays in Florida for 24 years. They have ignited shows for the Miami Heat and Dolphins, he said.

There are hundreds of names for the fireworks, Frank said, but most are named after flowers.

"The three most popular are called peonies, willows and chrysanthemum," he said. "The red peony looks like six petals."

There are two charges in every rocket, he said: The lift charge sets the rocket flying, and the second one lights about five seconds after launch.

"The lift charges bring them up approximately 4,000 feet," according to Frank.

For New Year's in Key West, the crew completely covered a barge with charged mortars and fired it off electronically.

The Guinness world record for fireworks was set Nov. 10, 2012, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, which launched 77,282 fireworks over 3 miles of waterfront for 64 minutes to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its constitution.

Frank said he is proudest of the fact that his crew stays safe and has not had any serious injuries.

"The worst injury we had was someone dropping a box and hurting their leg," he said.

It rains about 20 percent of the time, he said, but the show must go on.

The crew prepares for two solid days, not counting the time planning and transporting the explosives.


Alex Press, an intern at The Citizen, is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University.

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