Sky’s the Limit at Pyrotechnics Convention

Fireworks — and industry issues, government regulations, new technologies, and more — light up the American Pyrotechnics Association Annual Meeting & Convention.

Author: Casey Gale       

2024 American Pyrotechnics Association Annual Meeting & Convention

When: Sept. 24–27, 2024
Where: Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown, Nashville, Tennessee
2023 Attendees: 330
Expected in 2024: 350

Fireworks displays are both spectacular and fleeting. The sky explodes with a wide array of lights, shapes, and colors that offer spectators moments of awe. No less awesome: The growth of the pyrotechnics industry — U.S. sales totaled $2.2 billion in 2023, three times more than consumers spent on fireworks in 2012 — and its staying power. Historians think fireworks were introduced in China in the second century B.C. to ward off evil spirits. Fast forward to 1948, when seven fireworks manufacturing companies established the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) to address regulations and industry-wide issues. Since then, APA has been a voice for the industry, engaging in advocacy, education, training, regulation compliance assistance, and promoting the safe design and use of fireworks, much of which is discussed at APA’s annual meeting and convention.

“As a heavily regulated industry, many of our speakers are government regulators from the agencies that have oversight of the fireworks industry,” Julie Heckman, executive director of APA, told Convene, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives among them. “Additionally, we feature a local speaker who can talk about the importance of fireworks in the host convention city” — in 2024, the event will be held in Nashville — “and the impact of fireworks on the local economy,” she said.

Igniting Ideas

During APA’s annual meeting, eight committees convene: manufacturing, membership, transportation, display, standards, code, proximate pyrotechnics, and environmental, where global issues including the potential impact of fireworks on air quality and water are addressed.

All sectors of the pyrotechnics industry — from manufacturers, importers, and distributors of consumer, display, and theatrical pyrotechnics to suppliers and professional fireworks display companies — are represented at the event to explore such issues as shipping and supply-chain challenges. At “Spark Your Interest!” sessions, members “present on an emerging technology or area of unique interest to the industry,” Heckman said, “such as technical presentations on decibel levels associated with a public fireworks display, new firing systems, or how to enhance a fireworks display with drones.”

And, of course, there are fireworks — typically, two evening social events that incorporate displays. “It would not be an APA event,” Heckman said, “without a major splash of pyro!”

Casey Gale is managing editor of Convene. Illustration by Carmen Segovia

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