Fireworks Committee Members
The Laurel 4th of July Committee has four Maryland State Police, Office of the State Fire Marshal certified fireworks shooters. "Shooters," as they are known, also attend annual training provided by Fireworks Productions, Inc. (FPI). FPI provides technical support in addition to the fireworks you enjoy every year. A word of caution, no visitors are permitted in the fireworks set up area which is located on the hard stand across the lake from Gude Park.
The Laurel Fourth of July Committee is also hosting a Sponsor a Firework fundraiser. Here is a unique opportunity to show your support for the 2013 Laurel Fourth of July Fireworks display on July 6, 2013. Not only can you Sponsor a Firework, but we will also take donations for Dedications to someone you know and In Memory of a loved one. All Sponsors, Dedications and Memorials will be listed on our website and announced throughout the 4th celebration. If you would like to give your support, please complete and mail the form - link is to your right - along with a $20 check payable to the
Laurel Fourth of July Committee.
Laurel Fourth of July Committee Fireworks - Behind the Scenes
The Laurel Fourth of July Committee (LFJC), an all volunteer group, organizes and promotes many activities for our Nation's Independence Day celebration. Most are apparent as you enjoy the day's activities anticipating the evening's fireworks event. Some are less obvious. We spend nine months of the year preparing for the event but we cannot go it alone. We coordinate among city and volunteer services for support ... the Laurel Police Department, the Department of Public Work, the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department and the Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad all provide invaluable assistance and support to bring you the finest and safest show in the area.
Mid-week, before the celebration date, the LFJC post no parking signs along part of the parade route. We like to think of this as a warm up for the rest of the week. On Friday, we collect and assemble four purpose built barges from which we launch part of the fireworks display. This rather daunting task takes most of the day. On Saturday (event day) the fireworks are delivered by the production company - Fireworks Extravaganza, Inc. - located at Maryland Line, Maryland. Now the real work begins. We inventory, sort and arrange the fireworks according to a choreographed script on the barges while set pieces (stationary displays) are placed and mortar tubes are assembled and strategically located. Needless to say, the work area is strictly off limits to bystanders and curiosity seekers.
It is time for a few definitions. Firework cakes contain multiple colorful fireworks - up to 600 or as few as 16. They are as the name implies packed in boxes using small diameter cardboard launch tubes. These are placed on the barges and for our event, display no more than 300 feet above ground. Firework shells are sized in inches up to three inches for our event. A shell contains at least two parts. The lift charge which propels the projectile aloft and a colorful firework break which is sometimes accompanied by a salute or report (loud bang). These are launched from mortar tubes arranged in racks, typically of eight. Set pieces are stationary and convey a message or theme while they ignite.
What's next is the wiring of the firework to the command detonator. This is the most time consuming and tedious part of the process. Get it wrong and the firework will not "fire" so this work is done very carefully and quality controlled under the supervision by our lead pyrotechnician. We have four Maryland State Police, Office of the State Fire Marshal certified "shooters" active on the committee.
Once the work described above is completed and the commercial crane used to lift each barge with its precious cargo into the lake has arrived. An hour later, the crane has departed and the barges are being towed to anchorage and their final resting place on Gude Lake. Meanwhile, last minute checks are being preformed, the area is being policed up and volunteers can be seen taking a much needed break.
It is 9:15 PM and show time is announced by a single shell being fired. Well, the real reason we do this is to determine if wind conditions are acceptable to avoid "fall out" debris reaching the spectators or nearby structures. If it is precipitating, the "go" or "no go" call is made on the spot. If we postpone, we shoot on Sunday at 9:15 PM. During the fireworks shoot "Observers" are strategically located around the fireworks area to determine fallout conditions, based on wind direction and speed to ensure that the public is safe during the show. If fallout conditions are determined to be unsafe the show is stopped until more favorable conditions are met.
The show lasts over thirty minutes but the work isn't finished yet. We have to allow an additional thirty minutes to ensure all unexpended ordinance is unlikely to misfire. When the all clear is signaled, the fire department douses all cakes boxes while we inspect for duds. When the area is declared clear, we dismantle the hardware, neutralize any duds found and pack the material for shipment. But we aren't finished yet.
Sunday morning we assemble once more to police the area of debris (what a mess!), crane lift the barges from the lake, disassemble them and return same to storage for next year.