Getting Licensed for Cat 4

Discussion in 'Fireworks Forum Chat And Discussion' started by Chalgravesteve, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. Perhaps someone can help me with this.

    I have been firing Cat 3 displays for 15 years, and particularly one of the 2 displays I do every year has steadily got larger and larger, both on the number of fireworks and the size of the crowd.

    Our crowd for Fireworks night is usually up around the 2,500 mark, and this year I had 100+ rockets and 68 cakes of various sizes. What I usually do, is effectively get 2 cakes of everything I use, set them up as 2 identical displays side by side, and then we simultaneously fire the two displays, keeping each cake overlapping so we get a continuously firing display that lasts, hopefully, around 18/20 mins.

    The double display gives us a very good width to the display, and looks very good to the crowd as we have 2/4 cakes kicking off throughout the display.

    Anyway, I think we do a pretty good job of it....but......

    what I am trying to find out is.....

    If I became qualified to use Cat 4, I would assume that the display can go bigger and better....
    ....but is the cost of putting Cat 4 into the sky more or less than Cat 3? ie will i get more and bigger bangs for my bucks?

    The bottom line is that I think that the display that I do for our Village is at the threshold of where it can afford to pay for the fireworks...if this is going to be a lot more expensive, then I am wasting my time as they simply will not be able to afford to spend more to satisfy my urges to light fireworks!

    Don't get me wrong, I am under no illusions that training and qualification for cat 4, I expect to be tough and costly. I will make that decision myself, but I think that I will be firing fireworks for many years to come still, and maybe I would like to invest in myself a bit at the moment. I would appreciate any information from the pro guys as to the costs of Cat 4 stock against Cat 3.


  2. unless you got several thousand pounds spare id stick to Cat3

    there is no "qualification" as such in order to be able to buy and use Cat4 and by the time you factor in insurance and equipment and several other things its going to be far far cheaper to use Cat3
  3. ambientskies

    ambientskies Pro Firer/Crew Supports UKFR

  4. i dont think the £1000 on that thread for PLI is anywhere near accurate unless he knows a good place to go to get it i was under the impression a figure of 3 to 5x that was more in line to obtain it
  5. Nice....Thanks ambient....

    Storage for me is not an issue, I have got containers already and another one wont make any difference. I also have a shed load of posts, boards, rocket launchers. I could add the insurance to my existing commercial insurance which already has public liability insurance, and I would not get involved with the Village display at all if they did not have proper third party liability cover in place.

    Reading through the thread that you showed me, I also can remember firing shells out of tubes buried in 50 gallon oil drums many, many years ago, and it is this (plus the sight of that 16" shell at GFN 2009!!!) that has prompted the thoughts about getting bigger stuff.

    Having said that, the big cat 3 cakes and the big rockets...we fired three King Rockets to finish our display this year.........that well and truely put three full stops on the the end of it!! maybe, big cat 3 is still the way to go.

    Thanks for taking the time to help.

  6. remember with a display its not how much it costs or how much you can throw up at once that makes a good one but how you use what you have

    less can be more
  7. nickyrhodes

    nickyrhodes Pro Firer/Crew


    I was under the impression that theres only 2 or 3 places that will do firework display specific PLI, i got a quote recently and providing i'd passed BPA levels 1 & 2, it started at £2600 for 5m based on 5-10 shows per year....

    I didn't think that generic PLI covers the provision of firework displays?

    Might be wrong tho!! B)
  8. My Commercial insurance covers my own display at the club, as it is our own event and I have cleared it with the insurers. The school display is also covered by the schools insurers beforehand. I appreciate that my current commercial cover would not cover me going outside of that and doing commercial displays and getting paid for it. I dont want to go to cat 4 for that.

    I want to just keep on doing what I currently do, but with the possibility of bigger better fireworks for the £2k annual budget that I spend at the mo. there must be a threshold at which it is more cost effective to use cat 4 over cat 3, otherwise why would the big displays use cat 4? ( apart from height and size of bursts etc)
  9. nickyrhodes

    nickyrhodes Pro Firer/Crew

    I totally agree, there probably is a threshold, but if you are fully set up as a pro company i think there is more value for money, i.e. trade prices and shells are reasonably priced. From what i can tell, the bigger money is in the cakes.

    You'd get a really nice pro display for 2k from a reputable company if you so desired...

    I'm currently going through the process of possibly starting a pro display company, but as i've found out, its not a walk in the park and is going to be a good couple of years before everything might come together.

    If you havent been before, see if you can go out with a local display company, most of them are very happy and you'll get some experience of the pro kit....
  10. My £2k budget covers 2 displays one at £600 and the other at £1400, so apart from the fact that I like doing the set up and firing myself.....if I was to pay a pro company £2k to do the job, even if it was just one display, then this would have to include their manpower....therefore if I used "their" fireworks without the labour cost, I must be able to do it cheaper or put more fireworks into the sky.....
  11. Chesterfield Fireworks

    Chesterfield Fireworks Pro Firer/Crew

    This is how we work with one of our experienced firing team.

    He was reaching the limits of what was possible with hand firing retail items and approached us to look at undertaking his display (for the local primary school). He crewed on the display, for nothing, which meant more of the budget went towards fireworks.

    He now designs, leads that display as his own, but only after working with us for quite some time to allow that relationship to be built up, the trust between display company and firer has to be there prior to a firer being "let loose" on their own :)
  12. Arthur

    Arthur Pro Firer/Crew

    I'd suggest a good training course and some firing site experience before you decide to make the change from retail fireworks to cat4 fireworks.

    The cat4 course by "Illuminate consult" is probably the best available for an introduction to the skills needed to fire cat4 legally and safely.
  13. Illusion Fireworks

    Illusion Fireworks Pro Firer/Crew

    Or the BPA Firers courses which are better recognised :)
  14. Arthur

    Arthur Pro Firer/Crew

    The BPA training is to be a firer for a company, the Illuminate consult course is the be the owner of a firing company and a trained head firer.
    The BPA quals specify that they are not for the owner's of a firing company.

    Also and possible more importantly Roy Musk, one of the two insurers said he regards the BPA quals as inadequate to insure you as a principal in business but the Illuminate consult course he regards as adequate. So the Illuminate course pays off in the first year's insurance premium!

    ANYTHING that brings down the cost of your first year's insurance is really good, as the premium is likely to be in the order of some thousands of pounds.
    BusySkies likes this.
  15. nickyrhodes

    nickyrhodes Pro Firer/Crew

    Not wishing to start any kind of argument here, just a little discussion and hopefully not off topic :D

    I was having a chat with some of the pros i'm training with the other day and this illuminate course came up. Their view was how can one days course prepare you for everything you need to know to start and run a display company. Is it intended to be an extra for an experienced display manager?

    I'm following the full BPA level 1 and 2 course, which does require you to become and experienced firer for level 1, then level 2 is practical training managing displays, of which i think you need to be responsible for 12-15.

    Anyway, like i say, just a little question and discussion. If the illuminate course pays for itself in a year and i decided to set up i'd definately do it. But at this stage, I've done 7 shows as a trainee firer and am still learning new things. :D
  16. Nice one guys....the sign of a good forum....lots of responses, intelligent ones as well!! I have spent ages trying to find out more about Cat 4 by googling stuff....and have got far better info from here in a couple of days than I have in weeks of research.

    ....and that is not off topic is all relevent...I appreciate that proper training and gaining experience will take time, money and effort on my own part and I have to consider if it is a worthwhile exercise for 2 displays a year.... I don't really want to get into it as a full on business, the one I have got takes up enough time as it is already!
  17. Chesterfield Fireworks

    Chesterfield Fireworks Pro Firer/Crew

    that is a key question, there is an awful lot of work to be undertaken before you can go solo with Cat4 :)
  18. Komodo Fireworks

    Komodo Fireworks Pro Firer/Crew

    You never stop learning Nicky!

    My two penneth would be to stick with the BPA courses. At least this is a nationally recognised standard and more and more events are stipulating that companies must be BPA accredited in order to tender for work.

    As a pyro who used to work for the guys at illuminate, I would have nothing but praise for their methods and teaching. However you will find that each company has their own preferred methods of rigging and fusing etc. Which is the correct one..... Jury's still out I'm affraid.
  19. Skydazzle Pyrotechnics

    Skydazzle Pyrotechnics Pro Firer/Crew

    All the Training in the world will not make you a good and safe firer, it is experience and whether or not you put what you are taught into practice. That comes after working with a Company and proving yourself. There are plenty of firers that I am happy to have work with me, but only a handful I would trust to run a display for my business. The issue is whether the Company feels confident enough to let you do the show on your own. If it goes wrong then the owner is liable and could end up in Prison or a hefty fine. :(

    Any company has to make a profit and letting you have Cat4 fireworks and firing them at cost isn't doing that is it?? People are constantly asking to do their local show which they have a budget of £xxx and expect a Company to supply them Cat4 fireworks at cost to that value. They offer to work for nothing and think that the Firework Company is getting a good deal!!! You don’t expect a retail Shop to sell you fireworks at Trade prices so why expect a Pro Display Company to let you do a display at below cost?

    If you have an accident doing a Cat3 display the retailer isn’t liable for injuries or prosecution by the authorities, you do a Cat4 display under a Companies insurance and the owner is directly responsible for everything you do and any arising consequences.

    A Display Company has huge cost overheads and expecting them to take all the risk and responsibility and training for nothing is taking the p*ss really!!!B)
  20. Hi Mike....

    calm down man, you will blow a fuse...(pun intended!!):D

    I have not said that I want to buy Cat 4 at cost from anyone....I specifically said that I want to know what is involved in getting trained, so that I could consider using Cat 4 safely.

    I don't want a display company to do the display. I would like, after becoming trained to a satisfactory level, to establish a relationship with a company that can supply me with Cat 4 at a reasonable price. Now, if the supplying company STILL has a legal responsibility BECAUSE they supplied the Cat 4 firework even though they took no further part in the process between supply and firing, then I can understand where you are coming from and I would not do it either in your shoes if that was the case.

    ....and even Trade Prices are higher than any level on any product....if they are not...then you should review your trade prices!!! Cost is what you sell stuff to your best mate at....and even then you think about adding just a little!!!

    Hypothetically, if you supply me with £2K worth of cat 4 at "Trade" where you make a margin between your cost price and your Trade sale price, you are not working for nothing.

    I buy Cat 3 at discounted prices, but I expect the supplier to make a profit out of me. If he doesn't he has to cut corners in order to make any money and quite frankly the thought of someone cutting corners with my fireworks is not a concept that I want to embrace. on behalf of all those guys out there who are interested in Cat 4, and want to know how/if we can take our current skills to the next level, I'm not taking the p*ss, and i dont want something for nothing!!:)