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Kaboom! Pyrotechnics technician Nichol Reid stands in front of the Weston Domain arena where he will detonate fireworks tonight. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

Watching an organised fireworks show can be an enthralling experience.

However, few generally think about the work that goes on behind the scenes to make it happen.

Oamaru man Nichol Reid knows more than most about what is involved when it comes to setting up fireworks shows.

He is in charge of the process at this year’s Weston School fireworks extravaganza at Weston Domain.

Mr Reid has overseen the Weston show since the event got off the ground five years ago, and has been involved with fireworks displays for 15 years.

“To set them up, you have to have a licence,” he said.

“You have to have an approved handler’s certificate – that lasts for five years – and sit an exam and practical test.”

The process involved in making the night happen is far from simple.

First, approval is sought from the Waitaki District Council, the owner of the land.

A fire permit is obtained, the fire service, police and Civil Aviation Authority are all notified, and a no-fly zone order is put in place for the duration of the fireworks show, about 20 minutes.

As Worksafe New Zealand can choose to visit the event, full safety procedures are put in place, as well as an overall plan that includes a site plan, the distance the fireworks will be from residential properties, how they are being launched, and the type of firework being propelled.

Landowners around the domain are notified about the event through a leaflet drop.

When that process is completed, the fireworks and related equipment are set up on the day – which Mr Reid said generally took between six and eight hours.

The fireworks and equipment, such as mortar tubes, cabling and electronic equipment to shoot certain fireworks, are sourced from Christchurch.

Mr Reid said fireworks were let off according to a specific layout and sequence.

“When you start firing, there is a set way in which you do that to keep the flow going.”

Smaller fireworks are lit by hand, while it was mandatory that larger fireworks were fired electronically though a control panel.

“Some you can’t legally fire by hand – you have to be a set distance away from them.”

Safety is paramount. Mr Reid and his assistants’ safety gear includes helmets, visors, earmuffs, gloves, overalls and safety shielding.

He praised the Weston community for its support of the event and said his goal was to make it as stress-free as possible for those who lived close to the domain.