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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pyrotechnists delight in igniting football fireworks

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Ron Fuchs, warehouse manager of Fireworks Productions of Arizona in Chandler, Arizona, prepares his fireworks rig for the Wildcats team introduction at the UA vs Citadel game Saturday, Sept 11, 2010 at Arizona Stadium. Fireworks Productions of Arizona has been doing the fireworks displays at Arizona Stadium since 2001.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Ron Fuchs, warehouse manager of Fireworks Productions of Arizona in Chandler, Arizona, prepares his fireworks rig for the Wildcats team introduction at the UA vs Citadel game Saturday, Sept 11, 2010 at Arizona Stadium. Fireworks Productions of Arizona has been doing the fireworks displays at Arizona Stadium since 2001.

There’s something explosive on the field and it isn’t the players.

Two pyrotechnists make the booming and bombastic opening sequence for each Arizona home football game.

“”I always wanted to push the button and make things go boom,”” said Steve Heck, a pyrotechnician for Fireworks Productions of Arizona.

His father, who worked for the same company for more than 40 years, brought Ron Fuchs, the other pyrotechnician for UA’s games and warehouse manager, into the fiery world of incendiary devices.

“”First time I set off fireworks I was 5 and I was helping him (Fuchs’ father) do a high school show,”” Fuchs said.

Once you hear the fireworks go crack, you’ll never go back.

“”Once I learned how to shoot ‘em you just, you got hooked,”” said Kerry Welty, president of Fireworks Productions of Arizona and one of the alternate UA firework technicians.

The company carries a $10 million insurance policy, but the pyrotechnicians say there haven’t been any accidents at the UA.

“”There’s been acts of stupidity during setting up but not during the show,”” Heck said. “”You don’t fear it (the fireworks) but you have to respect it; the day you don’t respect it is the day it’ll bite you.””

All the fireworks used at the Arizona games are made for close-proximity ignitions.

“”When I was there this past weekend, Steve and I, we’re literally 10 feet away from the stuff when we shoot it,”” Fuchs said.  “”This last game the cheerleaders and the flag guys, they were standing in between it when we set them off and they’re still more going as the guys are coming through it.””

Fireworks have welcomed the team onto the field since 2001.

“”Fireworks are unique to college football and we’re proud to have this new sort of tradition,”” said Matt Brown, director of event operations for Arizona Athletics. “”I know those guys love doing it and the ZonaZoo goes absolutely berserk.””

The pyrotechnicians get excited for football season every year.

“”We look forward to having the seasons; it’s more work for us and we’ve got you guys when football comes around,”” Fuchs said.

“”I love working the games, the fireworks and, hey, it’s football!”” Heck said.

Neither of the pyrotechnicians graduated from UA or ASU.

“”My wife graduated from ASU and I’ve never liked ASU. I’ve never been a fan so it’s always been U of A,”” Heck said. “”I like the tradition more and the history behind U of A better.””

There are many perks to the job than just the chance to blow things up.

“”The best part of it is we get to shoot off and provide a great start to your guys’ team and get a great feeling for the field,”” Fuchs said.

“”You get the best seats in the house, other than the players,”” Heck added.

Heck is looking forward to Dec. 1 when some fireworks will be legalized in Arizona and he’ll have a chance to light them for his 9-month-old son.

“”He’s got to grow up a little bit before he’s lighting things off.””

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