Information Guidelines and help for this section

Discussion in 'Professional Fireworks' started by Pyro Pete, Apr 27, 2009.

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  1. Pyro Pete

    Pyro Pete Forum Editor

    Welcome to the Professional sub-forum. This is the place for chat between members who consider themselves "professional", typically firers, display company owners and those in the fireworks trade.

    We do not define any strict criteria on what a professional is because we are a discussion forum and not a supplier of professional fireworks. Rather we leave it to members to respect the spirit of the term. For example if you are posting about the acquisition or use of Category 4 (professional only) fireworks, you should ask yourself whether such use would be legal in the context in which you are posting. This would clearly be "yes" for those employed as professional firers.

    We are keen to be inclusive of all levels of experience in the trade, hence we welcome newbies and those starting out. We were all at the bottom rung of the ladder at one point! We also welcome posts here from non-professionals in cases where this is the most appropriate place for it, typically questions from those wanting to know how they can get into professional firing.

    Firework companies are welcomed and encouraged to make use of this forum to engage with other trade members, such as recruiting firers, posting vacancies for staff and posting details about training courses such as BPA and ADR. Thread prefixes are provided for these, when posting please make use of them, they are in a drop-down list to the left of the title you will need to fill in. They allow members to click on a thread prefix (such as "Firers Wanted") and see all posts with the same tag. It helps to organise such content better. You do not need to be a Sponsor or advertiser to post, providing you keep your posts on the subject at hand and don't post overly spammy content.

    The Pro Firer / Crew user title

    You will notice some members have a handy tag to show their involvement in the trade as a firer or crew member:


    Professional firers are encouraged to apply for this tag to add credibility to any posts they make in this section. Simply send me a private message (click on my profile and then "Start conversation") and let me know your real name and your connection to the trade, for example who you fire for. Trainees and those starting out are welcome to apply. The information you provide is kept confidential and I do not "vet" members, it's simply a gesture on your part to openly declare who you are in real life.

    Moderation of this section

    We fully support UK law when it comes to restrictions on the sale and use of professional fireworks to the public. With that in mind, we reserve the right to edit or remove content which implies or suggests someone is trying to acquire or use Category 4 fireworks when it would be unlawful for them to do so. We also reserve the right to challenge members posting content that appears suspicious to clarify their connection to the trade (and we encourage other verified Pro/Crew members to challenge too). Our decision on these matters is final.

    If you would like any content looked at by me or the moderation team you can also click "report post".

    Useful posts:

    (This is new as of September 2015 and I will be updating in due course with a list of useful threads on frequently asked about subjects)

    A guide to lining your shipping container by Elmo

    Handy guide to relevant definitions:

    Category 4: The category of fireworks reserved solely for use by professionals (consumer fireworks are Categories 1, 2 and 3). Common Category 4 fireworks include aerial shells which were once available to the public but banned in 1997 and barrages over a certain weight limit.
    Professionals: People who are legally entitled to buy and use Category 4 fireworks. Generally speaking this would be bona fide display companies only (to buy Category 4) and employed crew/staff of such companies (to use Category 4 at professional displays). "Bona fide" here referring to an actual trading company with licensed storage for professional fireworks, insurance and verifiable training or competence.
    Professional Licence, Licence To Use Category 4 or Training To Buy And Use Category 4: AKA "rocking horse sh*t". Sorry, but none of these things actually exist. It seems to be a misconception by the public that has endured for many years. You cannot get any training that makes you a professional on your own as a member of the public nor simply buy a licence. There is no way around this and no back door to obtaining Category 4 fireworks. If you are not a proper professional then any use of such fireworks is illegal (and very dangerous). Don't post about trying to obtain Category 4 fireworks if you're not a professional, it's the proverbial lead balloon and puts a large target on your back for the ban-hammer ;) Just saying.
    Industrial fireworks: A term used by the press because "Category 4" or "professional" doesn't sound quite as exciting, but usually it means the same thing and refers to professional items such as aerial shells. It's a bit like the tabloids referring to breasts as "knockers" or penises as "man sausages" because it sells more newspapers. Why let facts get in the way of a good story about "industrial fireworks"? :rolleyes:

    A history of this section AKA what happened to the Pro Application?

    Long term members will at some point notice that the requirement to apply for access to this section has been quietly retired. This is only relevant to a certain sub-section of members here so to read this click the button below.

    Back in 2009 when the section first started, the idea of having an area where professionals could discuss their interests was quite radical especially for a forum that had previously been geared only to consumer fireworks. The key issue was the legal situation regarding Category 4 and its use being unlawful for non-professionals.

    From a forum point of view, my worry was that discussion by "unverified" members, if it was found they were illegally using Category 4, could have legal implications for the forum.

    From a trade point of view, some parts of the trade were a bit closed-shop and the feeling (and pressure from them) was that access to such a section should be restricted. It was even suggested by some that the entire section should be hidden from the public or that I should vet applicants by asking for proof of their storage, insurance or training. And some suggested that we have a minimum requirement of what a professional is.

    I'm sure you will agree that such suggestions were totally unworkable, well beyond the scope of this forum (and me personally) and in some cases even legally questionable. Examples would be data protection and privacy implications from me asking for sensitive information. I'm sure some members of the trade also didn't appreciate the man hours and costs required on implementing such vetting, time and costs entirely on my shoulders. I think it's safe to say it would have discouraged 99% of professional firers too - would you give such information to a stranger on a forum?

    So at the time, a sort of compromise was reached. I ensured the Professional Forum was readable by anyone (to attract interest) but members had to apply for posting access. In doing this they would tell me their real names and connection to the trade and I would grant or deny access.

    I can tell you, six years later, this was in fact a complete waste of time, despite obviously being well intentioned by all sides to simply ensure professional talk is kept within professional circles :)

    Here's why:

    From a forum point of view, it has become so much clearer with various legislation like the new defamation laws, that forum owners are not legally liable for what people post. So I don't have to worry that I am responsible for the legality of third party use of Category 4 (though I take it seriously, see "Moderation of this section" above).

    From a "vetting" point of view, it has always been stated that we took self-declaration of professional status in good faith. So here's the thing: If we don't question whether applicants are telling the truth, why bother asking in the first place? Why not just let them post and assume they are bona fide?

    From the point of view of forum members, having this restriction tended to be counter-productive. How many people went to enthusiastically respond to a thread in the Pro section only to find they couldn't? And how many at that point simply gave up? For those that pressed on, they had to look for why they couldn't post, with many failing to see the pinned guides and messaging me to enquire (or complain). For those that did apply, they had to wait for me to respond and manually upgrade their accounts. Over six years that's a lot of man-hours I would rather have spent on other parts of the forum.

    Then we had issues of people posting in the General Discussion area either because they couldn't post here (they didn't read the instructions) or because they knew full well they should post here but thought, wrongly, the Pro section was invisible to the general public and wanted to give their content "better visibility". If I had £1 for every thread I have moved from General to Pro, well I'd be rich ;)

    There has to be a better way. And there is. Let's get back to being a discussion forum and doing what we do best - offering the ability for members to post and engage with each other and organising this into relevant sections. Let's take members in good faith and assume a professional is who they say they are.

    That's not to say we don't have the same moderation approach as before: As mentioned above, we fully support UK law and will act if any content posted appears unlawful (even though we don't have to). The difference is now we are reactive and not pro-active. The previous system was, at best, a sledgehammer to crack a walnut and at worst, a solution to a problem that didn't actually exist. And as for declaring who you are and divulging your real name who you work for: That's now voluntary, as I feel it should be.

    Last updated: September 2015
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
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