9,232 posts
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Quick question:

Is anyone actually, honestly twirling fire legally anywhere?

I know, or at least I think, it's illegal to have an open flame indoors and even on US beaches whre bonfires are legal it's illegal to burn any poi fuel.

I know there are lots of areas where law enforcement looks the other way or even condones spinning, but it's technically illegal. Sometimes even fire officials condone/approve the behavior but it's technically illegal.

...And if so, how?
Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

jim bombadilmember
142 posts
Location: bristol

When you think about it theres arn't many activities that can't be classed as illegal if the powers that be want to stop them occuring. In the UK as in many other places there are laws against congregation, public disorder, sound systems playing repetitive beats, many towns have byelaws against all kinds of activities, in the city of london you can be fined for a whole number of different offences from skateboarding, climbing a tree, making music or having a goat with you (seriously)!! Obviously aslong as we carry on working our jobs and spending our money and paying our taxes then everythings cool but the moment they think you might fancy doing something different its a different story innit!!!

nomadBRONZE Member
356 posts
Location: Paris, France

NYC, the only times i spun fire legally (i.e. with proper permits, so that if any authority had questionned me, they would have had to leave me alone and walk away) were at scheduled performances, mainly in New England.

Any other times, it was illegal. I've had times that cops looked, asked a few questions, and left, and other times where they asked me to stop.


TheBovrilMonkeySILVER Member
Liquid Cow
2,629 posts
Location: High Wycombe, England

I think I've spun fire legally roughly 50% of the times I've lit up - according to the police I spoke to a few weeks ago, anywhere other than my garden is illegal and I'm likely to be stopped.

He also said that it's covered in local by-laws rather than countrywide regular laws (at least it is here, I don't know about anywhere else), so I'm currently trying to work out how I can go about getting a permit/license type thing from the local district council, which probably means buying a fire extinguisher to go with my fire blanket.

It's a pain in the arse really, especially since the example I gave of where I'd like to spin is in the middle of open ground covered in cut grass for at least half a mile in every direction, but apparently that's also considered dangerous But there's no sense crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying till you run out of cake.

2,364 posts
Location: austin,tx

there is no blanket permit to let you do what you want in any indoor location. i however have a permit to do whatever i want outside, within certain parameters that i would follow anyway. any city is gonna wanna get some cash out of the indoor show, so you're gonna have to jump thruogh the hoops and get permits, and maybe even a fireman on duty, until they see that you know what you're doing, and then might back off and let you do it without one present. . . another obstacle is insurance.

there are currently a lot of fire troops at least here in the u.s. that are trying to establish guilds with licensing practices and permit homogenization, so that if you are in the guild you don't have to worry about it, cause the authorities are assured the safety measures are kept up. but at least the one i was involved with has pretty much died in the oven. the fad is dying, now that people realise you can't reeally make moneydoing this, and have to do it out of love and sacrifice. -Such a price the gods exact for song: to become what we sing -Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty. -When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path.

KajiQuantum Theorist
564 posts
Location: Vansterdam

We have permission from the mayor in my city to spin In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird, now the world is weird and they take prozac to make it normal again.

Kinudin (Soul Fyre)veteran
1,325 posts
Location: San Diego, California, USA

I have permission from the Fire chief, and special events dirrector to spin fire, and practice in my backyard.

If the neighbors tell me to stop because it's to loud? Then I just stop hasn't happened yet though

Raymund Phule (Fireproof)Enter a "Title" here:
2,905 posts
Location: San Diego California

The only time I have been told to stop, was when I was spinning fire on base. Some Jarhead last night: "this dumb a$$ thinks hes fireproof"

flidBRONZE Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,136 posts
Location: Warwickshire, United Kingdom

oh i'm sorry, i misunderstood the topic

FireSpiritSILVER Member
Classic 90's Fire Dancer... Poi, Staff, Doubles, and Breathing
743 posts
Location: South Lake Tahoe, USA

I think the only time I spunn leagly was at a Very Large Rave.(2000-3000 ravers, a few years ago)
I was put on a stage with a DJ, and we spunn together! It was wild!
The Fire Commish. and the Chief of Police was watching every move, from doucing the wicks, spinn off, transport to the stage and the lighting. After they burnt out, I had a wet towle off stage to wrap them in. No flame, no smoke, They where very impressed! Both Loved it and said I was very Profesinal, Also said I could do it any time through the night, (the same way of course).
Other than that I feel it is an UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT.
I have had many police turn there heads, or waited till we where done spinning to talk to us.
One time we had just finnished spinning, (me and my sister, Trippin Balls ) when a Fat Security Guard came waddling down to us and started ranting about fire throwers.
I walked up to him and started to explain. It looked as though he was going to eat me, when he said, "Your Not Her! I got a report of a Girl on fire!"
Thats when his back up came, and I convinced them all to watch a show.
Since we where in a low concreat apatheater, they said it was OK, but said it was the only place to do it in the area!
I could Live with that. So we carried on with the trip.

Fire By Riz tmmember
212 posts
Location: tampa fl usa

thats a tough one to answer seeing how most fire codes are from town to town something the might be legal in my town may not in the next town over..Poi are basicly a group one flame effect
mannaly lit hand held torch . and defenitons
to vary at least in fl .. I have taklked to one fire marshell in tampa said no sweat if the club has permitts for candles or tiki lights we are covered .. to were a fire marshal in ft laud told me i needed x amount of fire exstinguiers
per sq ft of the club two fireman /ems present
the fire marshell present Insurance a permitt
havening to do a dry run of the show before hand for the fire marshell to get the permitt..Some times i feel like a trained dog jumping through hoops and giving away money ......I would say
I run 75% legal and 25% burn and runs as i call them.. As sad as it is to say for some short shows it just isnt worth the hassles to go through all the bs to get a permitt..and we have it pretty easy here I have a fireman and a lawyer on my team and some permitts are still hard to get..

As Arashi said about the guild the idea is a great concept were we could get known by the fire marshells and city people who handle permits to make it easyier for those of us who are safe any try to be legal but the one i joined seemed to die out as well..and to be honest I dont ever see one working It is alot of work by everyone involed doing fire shows right and legal adds a lot of cost to the price of the show as well..a promoter rarely sees that cost when he has two other people banging on his door saying they will do it free or for much less cause they could careless about being legal..all they want is for their show to go off
Nyc as far as the open fire and beach thing I have never heard such a thing about fuel ..I wonder if it is illegal to use a cig lighter on those beachs as well they have fuel ?? I have been cursed with the imagination to envision it all

9,232 posts
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Good responses. There does seem to be a huge discrepency between "legal" and "allowed" (unenforced). Just because a Mayor, Cop, or Fire Marshal says you can spin doesn't mean it's legal. In a small town that's cool because law enforcement isn't a huge beaurocracy whereas in a big city you can be fine with the first 35 cops that walk by and say it's cool and the 36th gives you crap. This has happened on quite a few occations.

My feeling is that most of us who feel like we're spinning legally, aren't. I know it's technically illegal to have an open flame in most buildings in New York. This means it's illegal to light a cigarette with either matches or a lighter. OF COURSE this isn't enforced at all BUT once you go from a lighter to flaming balls of kevlar it could easily be.

All of the beaches in New York have a "no fuel" policy. It was actually one of the first things they said even before I mentioned my intentions. They said "Only Bonfires with wood, no fuel of any kind other than wood is to be lit" so even propane ovens were illegal. Again, probably unenforced but once you throw in kids twirling flaming balls of fire Officer Bob is going to turn his big flashlight on in your direction. Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

CharlesBRONZE Member
Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
3,989 posts
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

I'm confused, is there laws overseas about fire performing in public places?

NZ has no such laws, there are only laws governing open fires for cooking or bonfires.

The gas heaters most of the cafe's here are closer to my wicks than an open fire. In fact heaters, torches and gas flame spouts (often outside nightclubs) all seem to be the category that fire perfomring fits into.

May I please ask what source of information is that has the "illegality" of fire performing ascertained? HoP Posting Guidelines
* Is it the Truth?
* Is it Fair to all concerned?
* Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
* Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

9,232 posts
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Good idea Charles... I guess most of my knowledge is heresay.

I called my local beaches simply to find out where bonfires were allowed and the parks dept. told me that only wood could be burned. Far before I even suggested otherwise. Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

Fire By Riz tmmember
212 posts
Location: tampa fl usa

I have a book (nfpa160) the has the fedrel guidelines for using flame effcts in front of a audiance
but that is for the usa and like i posted before the power of laws changes from one town to the next. but this book covers what the foudation
of the laws are and what they should be ..I recomend anyone who is going to look into being legal or not should buy a copy of this book fire marshells really like like when you talk to them in their own verbage .. here is the link were you can buy the book
it is like 35 bucks if you dig through old posts i think Adam Rice posted were you could download it for free I have been cursed with the imagination to envision it all

Lambretta Fanatic
4,995 posts
Location: United Kingdom

well, after 3 hours researching this topic, i found several things, professional performers [actors/ circus performers and so on]are required to have Equity, Equity provides public liabillity free of charge to every member. Membership costs 25 UK pounds and an anual subscription of 65 UK pounds, so it is good value for money.
If you are performing as a display in public, or running workshops then you are required to have public liabillity, i found insurance for upto 5 million UK pounds at a cost of 75 UK pounds anual, so then thats as reasonable as the Equity.
So after my findings i found no national or local bye-laws regarding spinning fire poi in a public area for your self. The only thing that i would recomend for any one is maybe a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit, i normally carry both, so if you do get stopped by the law enforcement agencies then you can give them good reason not to arrest you.
I spoke to several police men in my area about spinning fire poi in local parks, they had no qualms with it and said that its not in anyway illegal for me to be doing it, at that point i was not insured, but i was only out spinning with a friend. I've also had police stop in the street and walk over to where i was spinning and just sit down and watch, then ask me a few questions, then leave again.
I found also that in the UK you can do a degree in circus arts at the circus space in London at the cost of 1,400 UK pounds, wish i had that money and 2 years to do it.
Also availiable at the circus space are NVQ's in circus skills for age groups between 16-20 i think, i'm a little too old for that one.

So in general i think in the UK that if your spinning fire and its controled and you take safty precautions then theres no problem.
Your more likly to get hit by a flying caterpillar than get arested for spinning.
just my two cents. PK.

"To be an angel, one need not have wings.
In giving love there is an equal grace.
Nor need one seek the aura in the face,
As love unveils the beauty of all things."

*Francois Couperin.