Sparks fly with David Boshard

Published on December 20th, 2011
Sparks fly with David Boshard

When did you first realise you wanted to become a Pyrotechnic?
Not Sure … I think it is genetically wired into guys to play with things that go “bang”, but I can remember at the age of about 11 playing with Crackers and my Soldiers so I suppose that’s when it all started.

How long have you been a Pyrotechnic?
I have been licensed since 1998, so 13 years.

Where did you study to become a Pyrotechnic and how long did it take?
To become pyro technician you are required to do an apprenticeship training under a person who holds the required license. For me this took about 2 years as at the time Pyrotechnics was not as popular as it is now. Once I had done the required shows/events I did the exam with CIE(Chief Inspector of Explosive) in Pretoria.

There are currently 4 Types of licenses ….

  • Stage Pyrotechnics
  • Fireworks
  • Movie Effects
  • Blasting (Mines & Quarries)

Each have their own criteria and examination. I have my stage Pyro licence and I am currently working towards my fireworks licence.

What kind of things did you study and learn while working in the industry?
The main thing that I have learnt is to be hard working and reliable. If people can rely on you to be on time and trustworthy you will always have work. I have a foot in both the Pyrotechnical and Lighting and Sound industries. This requires a lot of commitment and time, if you are not prepared to give it this industry will literally chew you up and spit you out…have seen it happen to so many guys.

What are the travel opportunities like?
Lots of travel opportunities … Since I have started working for Firework for Africa I have been all over the country and into Africa. Some of the people at Fireworks for Africa have been to Canada, Europe and Seychelles .

What are the working hours like and do you get a lot of leave or not?
The hours are long but the guys in the trade are a laugh a minute and the time just slips away.

What is the pay like for a Junior Pyrotechnic and one who is higher up on the ladder?
The pay is better than the Lighting and Sound industry due to the fact that the responsibilities are much higher. The more responsibility you take on the higher your pay and also how you deal with clients is vital. The more valuable you make yourself to the company the better the rewards.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced while working as a Pyrotechnic so far?
Dealing with clients. Most of the time they are not sure what they want so you spend a fair amount of time explaining and convincing them on what route to take. A client with a clear vision make my life easier.

What is the best part about the job and why?
Meeting the people in the industry. I have worked with local and international crews and have met such a variety of people with so many stories to tell.

What is the worst part about the job and why?
Late hours and missing my family but I think worse than that is crossing the borders into other parts of Africa – you need nerves of steel.

What advice would you give to a young person who would be interested in the world of Pyrotechnics?
If you are thinking of going into the industry, get in touch with people in the industry and try a few shows first. Get a feel for the trade before you dive into it. If it’s in your blood you will find out very quickly – you will love or hate it, there is no middle ground. I have been in and out of the industry but always get drawn back into it.