Cold Sparks

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South Carolina Law Disclaimer

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Special Effects and Explosives Guidelines and Regulations - "Cold Sparks" or "Pyrotechnic Effects Simulation Equipment "

The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) has received numerous inquiries regarding the standards, classification and permitting requirements for the use of spark producing machines sometimes referred to as “Cold Spark Machines”.

These machines are sold under numerous brand names and produced domestically and by numerous foreign manufacturers. Many of these manufacturers and distributors are marketing and purporting that these devices are un-regulated and do not require permits or licenses for their use.

The individual requirements for permits and licensing vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However, in December 2018, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issued a Temporary Interim Amendment (TIA) to address this emergent technology and the introduction of this type of device into the marketplace. This was done in response to a lack of clear guidelines or standards for use or risk mitigation, and to address several instances of machines catching on fire, creating potentially injurious fall-out, and setting off fire alarms.

The general consensus among stakeholders was that these devices, while arguably somewhat safer than conventional pyrotechnics, do still pose a hazard to life safety under certain circumstances and the potential at a minimum of false alarms. There are no current, industry wide performance guidelines, manufacturing standards, or engineering and testing verifications by third parties for these machines and the expendable fuels that create the effects as might be required by a broadly recognized authority or agency. Although some manufacturers have obtained UL, CE, CSA, or other approvals from a widely recognized testing lab, these approvals only address the electrical integrity or the minimum standards for trade commodities within a jurisdiction. These approvals do not in any way indicate a certification for safe use of the effect in the public environment. Safe use, as with all special effects devices, should be determined by appropriate analyses of all the risk and environmental factors in each application and approved by all involved parties, including the authority having jurisdiction.

During the 2021 Revision cycle, the NFPA Technical Committee on Special Effects was directed to take up the task of classifying and setting standards for the use of these types of devices. After months of work, and public comments, including input from manufacturers of these devices, the devices were formally defined as Special Effects Simulation Equipment. (NFPA 1126, 2021 revision; § 3.3.40 and 3.3.41). Thus, subjecting them to all relevant permitting and licensing requirements. To avoid confusion in certain jurisdictions, NFPA 160, 2021 revision, § 1.3.3 (12) specifically excludes them from Flame effects standards and refers them to NFPA 1126.

The APA Proximate Pyrotechnics Committee strongly supports the NFPA’s 2021 revision of NFPA 1126 regarding these devices, and encourages all jurisdictions to adopt the most current edition of these two standards and recommends that all spark producing devices be regulated and permitted as pyrotechnic devices with all applicable local regulations pertaining to licensure and use. Additionally, the APA strongly encourages the manufacturers, distributors, and users to develop training programs for compliant use and emphasize the necessity to follow maintenance protocols and perform risk mitigation analyses.

If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out to APA.

Jon Berson, Chair- Proximate Pyrotechnics Committee

Brian Panther, APA President and Co-Chair- Proximate Pyrotechnics Committee

             Email: Susan Mazzone : (803) 896-9061

Permits shall be received in the South Carolina Fire Marshal's Office 15 days prior to the performance date. Should an application be received less than 15 days prior to the performance date, the application fee is doubled. A Certificate of Insurance, for a minimum of $1,000,000 naming The State of South Carolina and its Agents as additionally insured, should accompany the permittee’s application. For a detailed explanation of the regulations, please contact the South Carolina State Fire Marshal's Office;

>> Source Cited Website

>> SC Board of Pyrotechnic Safety

Contact - Charleston County

The good news about permits in South Carolina is that there are relatively few. Please call our office if you have any questions about which places require a special use permit. The few exceptions are:

Within the corporate limits of the city or county of Charleston.

Rachel Workman
City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs
75 Calhoun Street, Suite 3800
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 724-7307

Contact - South Carolina State Fire Marshal

Susan Mazzone : (803) 896-9061   

Deputy State Fire Marshal, Licensing and Permitting 

Nathan Ellis : 803-414-7161

Assistant State Fire Marshal 

SC Office of State Fire Marshal

141 Monticello Trail

Columbia, SC 29203

Tel: (803) 896-9800

Hours: 08:30 am - 5:00 pm, Monday - Friday except State Holidays

               Permits may be issued for:

To: South Carolina Authority’s Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s)

From: Shawn Stickle, Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal

Subject: “Cold Spark” Machines and Use of Pyrotechnics before a Proximate Audience

Date: March 22, 2022

The Office of State Fire Marshal has received multiple inquiries regarding the permitting requirements of “cold spark” machines, both indoors and outdoors, in front of a proximate audience for multiple events. As such, the Office of State Fire Marshal offers the following guidance in an effort to provide a consistent application of South Carolina Code of Laws, South Carolina Code of Regulations, and the South Carolina Fire Code (SCFC) with referenced standards.


The 2018 SCFC §5608.1 requires “outdoor fireworks displays, use of pyrotechnics before a proximate audience and pyrotechnic special effects […] comply with Sections 5608.2 through 5608.10 and NFPA 1123 or NFPA 1126.” Additionally, South Carolina Code of Laws requires the Office of State Fire Marshal to promulgate regulations pertaining to the use of fireworks.


The 2018 SCFC adopts the 2016 edition of NFPA 1126 through reference. ‘NFPA 1126, Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics Before a Proximate Audience, was developed in response to a recognized need for a document to provide guidance to public safety officials for the safe use of pyrotechnic special effects at both indoor and outdoor locations. The purpose of this standard is to provide requirements for reasonable protection for pyrotechnic operators, performers, support personnel, and proximate audiences where pyrotechnic special effects are used indoors and outdoors.’


NFPA 1126 §3.3.40 defines a Pyrotechnic Device as:


Any device containing pyrotechnic material or pyrotechnic effect simulation equipment and capable of producing a special effect as defined in this standard.


NFPA 1126 §3.3.41 defines Pyrotechnic Device Effect Simulation Equipment as:


Equipment that uses a chemical mixture, heat source, and the introduction of oxygen to initiate or maintain combustion and is used to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration, or detonation.


Therefore, the use of “cold spark” machines in front of a proximate audience would require pyrotechnic display permits and licensure as an unrestricted or indoor pyrotechnic operator per South Carolina Code of Laws §23-35-45 and South Carolina Code of Regulations, promulgated by the Office of State Fire Marshal. If you have any additional questions regarding this subject, pyrotechnic operator licenses, or the indoor/outdoor pyrotechnic permitting process through State Fire’s new online Informational Management System (IMS), please contact Chief Stickle at 803-834-0944 or

Terms and Conditions

South Carolina venues may impose an additional charge for the use of "Cold Sparks" indoor fireworks in front of a proximate audience audience, extended liability and insurance. These include but not limited to; permit applications, and a dedicated person to stand a fire watch from the local fire Marshall. Fees are dynamic for this service. Consult your venue & the venue's local fire department. For a one time use (ea. unit) up to 10-15 Minutes.