When a film or television production uses of special effects involving any kind of fire, explosives or pyrotechnics the following local and state regulations must be followed.

The Austin Fire Department (APD) Prevention Division involvement with the film industry movie shoots revolve around the required permits and inspections and/or standby requirements associated with open flame and pyrotechnic effects, and, the inspections and approvals associated with street closures.

A flame effect is the combustion of flammable solids, liquids, and/or gases to produce thermal, physical, visual, and/or audible phenomena before an audience (e.g., hand-held burning torches, flaming batons or hoops, flame acts, fire walking, flaming sword dancers, open burning with religious services, candles or open flames in assembly occupancies, and/or fire or special effects for film productions). A full demonstration for the Fire Marshal prior to the event date may be required.

The following is required in order to obtain a permit for pyrotechnics or flame effects:

  • A $50.00 permit fee (issued by Emergency Prevention Office).
  • A current State of Texas, Pyrotechnic or Flame Effects Operators License.
  • Permit applications submitted 30 days prior to the event
  • A list of the materials to be used along with and MSDS for each.
  • A certificate of insurance for General Liability Insurance for a minimum of $1,000,000.00 per occurrence combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage. The City of Austin must be named as an additional insured on the policy.
  • When required by the Assistant Fire Marshal, a test shall be conducted to demonstrate the safe use of flame/pyrotechnic special effects material prior to use
  • When necessary for the preservation of life or property, the Assistant Fire Marshal is authorized to require the attendance of standby personnel and fire equipment as set forth in the 2009 International Fire Code: Chapter# 33 Explosives and Fireworks (Section# 3301.5 Supervision - The fire code official is authorized to require operations permitted under the provisions of Section 3301.2 to be supervised at any time by the fire code official in order to determine compliance with all safety and fire regulations).

AFD Operations is also involved with supplying fire personnel and fire apparatus that may be needed in the actual film. When street closures are part of the filming, a site plan is required by AFD and an inspection may be required depending on the obstructions to access or egress of any structure.

The following expenses are the responsibility of the Production Company and/or Pyrotechnic Operator: (Staff recommendation that all fees below be eliminated except for the standard overtime costs associated with the use of Fire Department personnel.)

  • $160.00/hr. for each required apparatus standby (1 hr minimum)
  • $119.00/hr. for each fire inspector on required standby duties or on overtime inspections (2 hour minimum on overtime)
  • $160.00/hr. for each film industry requested fire apparatus (1 hr minimum)


For other details about working with the Fire Department for filming, please contact:

Michelle Tanzola
Public Information & Marketing Manager, City of Austin Fire Department


The State of Texas requires all technicians handling fire and pyrotechnics be licensed.

Pyrotechnic Special Effects Operator License
The person who assembles, conducts and supervises the use of pyrotechnic devices in the presence of a proximate audience must obtain a state Pyrotechnic Special Effects Operator’s license.A proximate audience may include anyone on set including non-professional actors, extras and workers other than the film crew.

Flame Effects Operator License
The person who assembles, conducts or supervises flame effects before an audience must obtain a state Flame Effects Operator’s license.

Examine & License Fees
The license application and $45.00 license fee should not be submitted until the examination has been successfully completed. Background checks are performed on all applicants, and the license will not be issued until the check is satisfactorily completed.

Additional Resources:


For more information about pyrotechnic and flame effect licensing, please contact:

State Fire Marshal’s Office
Fireworks Licensing Technician