The fireworks display at the National Day Parade (NDP) is most popular with Singaporeans each year. Due to the event’s significance and the crowds at the show, the NDP Fireworks Committee carries a heavy responsibility in ensuring the safety of the audience and performers during the fireworks display. To help address potential safety issues of the fireworks display, the DSTA team specialising in Armaments Safety was engaged to support the NDP 2013 Fireworks Committee.

As fireworks produce debris, establishing adequate safety clearances is critical in ensuring safety. The team introduced a process to measure the height and diameter of the fireworks effects as well as to evaluate the impact of various wind conditions on fireworks debris. This improved the accuracy of the safety clearances, avoiding overly conservative safety clearances which might unnecessarily restrict the choice of fireworks used. A contingency management chart which detailed the maximum allowable wind speed from various directions was also developed. This facilitated the Chairman of the NDP 2013 Fireworks Committee in making any real-time decisions regarding the firing of certain fireworks should there be a risk of debris falling onto the crowds.

The team drew on its knowledge in hazard classification of military explosives which is applicable to fireworks. Systems safety methodology was then applied to analyse the safety of the fireworks workflow holistically. The team identified the hazards for each stage of the fireworks life cycle (including fireworks storage, transport, set up, display and disposal), assessed their risks and devised risk-mitigation measures. The safety measures during various stages of a fireworks display are dependent on the hazard classification of the fireworks. If the hazard classification was assigned inaccurately by the manufacturer, the implemented safety measures would be inappropriate. To address any potential gap, the team put in place a verification process to ascertain the hazard classification information provided by the manufacturer was accurate.

With the team’s efforts, the safety of the fireworks display was enhanced. This allowed the crowds to enjoy a spectacular display of more than 7,000 fireworks fired from 19 locations.