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Bozeman fireworks organizer shows how shells work

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Jul 04 2013 06:05:16 PM MDT
Updated On: Jul 04 2013 06:47:53 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

When I arrived at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds the folks with Big Sky Fireworks were just about to put the shells in the tubes. I wanted to know exactly what that meant so I stuck around to find out what makes a firework a firework.

Organizer Cole Truscott shows me the inside of a shell. That's what goes inside the tube to create the blast. He says the lift charge sits directly under the cone.

"It's just a little bag of explosive and that's what propels the shell out of the tube. This gets left behind. Once that bag ignites and blows the shell out, it lights the timing fuse," explains Truscott.

The inside is burned once it reaches altitude. That's when the shell explodes.

Attached to the shell is the red leader. It's a quick match fuse .

"This burns ridiculously fast. You could burn probably a quarter miles of this in a half a second," Truscott lifts up the quick match.

That comes back to the electronic match which Truscott runs to an ignition system that, in turn, runs back to the firing panel. The panel allows Truscott and his team to set off the fireworks electronically from a couple hundred feet away.

"Key switch to arm it and then we can select over here. Each slat has an alphabet address A-12, B-12 and so on so, we can select which rack we want to fire at what time," says Truscott.

But before the show can begin, Truscott and his crew must load the ton of explosives into dozens of fiberglass tubes. A task expected to take at least seven hours to complete.

It's $23,000 worth of fireworks and hours of preparation all for one 17 minute show.