The Department of Labor has been working to implement the new pyrotechnic licensing requirements and we wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how we plan to interpret and implement those requirements.
After reviewing comments received concerning our initial draft we have made revisions to clarify the scope of the pyrotechnic rules and their relationship to NFPA standards and Penal Law permits, to clarify the roles of operators and assistants, and to reserve various matters to be address by the Pyrotechnic Examining Board.
The statute provides, and the rules reflect at 61-1.1(a), that the Commissioner’s rules for certifying pyrotechnicians apply statewide (including in the City of New York).
The terms and definitions used throughout the pyrotechnic rules have been refined to closely track the terms, definitions and application of NFPA 1123 and NFPA 1126. The scope of NFPA 1123 and NFPA 1126 define the scope of events (“shows”) and conduct (acting as a “pyrotechnician”) being regulated, and provide the basis for distinguishing the different classifications (Class C = NFPA 1126; Class B = NFPA 1123 and Class A = both) and the relevant experience requirements (5 shows for each type: 1123/1126).
The rules focus on the role of a singular “operator” under NFPA, who is responsible for the show and the assistants who make up the crew, by requiring that each show have a certified operator who has overall responsibility for compliance, for authorizing and supervising assistants, and for recordkeeping (permit and crew list). Other certified pyrotechnicians who may work on a crew as assistants have more limited responsibility for their own activities and those of any assistants they have been assigned by the operator to supervise.
The rules seek to reserve for input from the Pyrotechnic Examining Board issues of training and reporting requirements, as well as the development of a written examination.
Every pyrotechnic display conducted in New York on or after October 4, 2009, will have to have at least one lead pyrotechnician who possesses a certificate of competence issued by the Commissioner of Labor. Not every operator will need to have a certificate of competence: uncertified operators will be allowed to work under the direct supervision and control of a certified pyrotechnician. That approach will provide apprenticeship opportunities for new operators to gain the experience necessary to qualify for a certification in the future. It will also allow out of state, as well as local, operators the opportunity to work on a show without having to obtain their own certificate of competence.
In order to meet the October 4, 2009, deadline and avoid major disruptions to the industry that would result if there were a delay in issuing certifications, the Department plans to “grandfather” in those operators who have previously been placed in charge of displays, provided that they also satisfy the other requirements detailed below (age, background, training experience, but no written test).
To get sufficient numbers of lead pyrotechnicians certified by October 4, the Department will plan to start accepting applications in August, 2009, so that certifications can be in hand before the end of September, 2009.
The statute that requires certification of pyrotechnicians also authorizes and directs the Commissioner to promulgate rules and regulations to administer and enforce the certification requirement and provides for an examining board to be created pursuant to those rules and regulations. General Business Law § 483. The Commissioner is drafting emergency regulations to create such a board and provide for the administration and enforcement of the certification requirement (details below).
Candidates interested in being considered for a position on the pyrotechnicians examining board should submit a resume identifying their relevant background and experience, together with a cover letter to the following address:
Pico Ben-Amotz, Esq.
Deputy Commissioner for Worker Protection
New York State Department of Labor
State Office Campus Building
Albany, NY 12240
Letters of support or recommendations for candidates can either be included in the submission, or sent separately to the same address.
The proposed regulations for certifications of pyrotechnicians and certain other occupations (such as crane operators and blasters, will be broken down into two parts. The first will contain general provisions that are common to all certified occupations and the second will contain provisions that are specific to each occupation that may expand on or depart from the general provisions.
The general provisions will contain the basic definitions, requirements, and procedures concerning applications and fees ($150 for a certificate that lasts three years), background checks (including physical and criminal), examinations (written, or practical, or both), and for hearings to be conducted (by an examining board, if one exists, otherwise by a hearing officer) before any certification can be suspended, revoked, restricted, or refused to be renewed.
The specific provisions for pyrotechnicians will establish a pyrotechnician examining board (at least three members, including at least one pyrotechnician and at least one representing a pyrotechnic display company). The Commissioner may seek a larger board of five members at the outset, given all the work that will be required up front in reviewing and establishing qualification and training requirements and setting up a written examination, in addition to holding hearings, if any should be required.
The specific requirements for pyrotechnicians will also establish the basic qualification requirements including age (21 years), training (a general requirement that the examining board could flesh out), minimum experience (at least five displays within the past three years) and the following classifications:
Class A: All displays
Class B: Displays other than proximate audience
Class C: Displays before a proximate audience.
Applicants could apply for any class of license if they meet the experience requirements for that class: five proximate shows for Class C, five nonproximate shows for Class B, and four of each for a Class A. Similarly, for those who seek to be grandfathered in, they would have to have been in charge of at least one of each type of show relevant to the Class they seek: one proximate for Class C, one nonproximate for Class B, and one of each for Class A.
The specific requirements for pyrotechnicians would also include a duty to report unusual incidents that resulted in, or could have resulted in personal injury or damage to property, and provisions for issuing certificates without examination, either based on reciprocity (recognizing a license from another state) or grandfathering in (the first round of certifications).
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