Greensboro, N.C. - Fireworks and the Fourth of July just go together. But, before those big bangs in the air, there's a lot of work to do on the ground.
"I haven't seen a good fireworks show in ten years," Hale Artificier Lead Operator Brian Kirk said.
Kirk isn't insulting his own work, he just experiences the fireworks show from a different perspective.
"There's a lot of sulfurous smoke. It's hot. It's humid. You're dressed head to toe in long cotton shirts and pants with a hat. There's a certain amount of stress involved. You're sweating. It's just very hot, very smoky," Kirk said.
The crew that sets off the fireworks doesn't have time to look up.
"We're too focused on safety here at ground level to pay attention to what's going on in the sky," Kirk said.
Most of the tubes are made of fiberglass. Crews link them together with chains and straps to prevent them from tipping over.
"The potential for something to go wrong is always there, but if you follow all the rules you are going to be in good shape," Kirk said.
During the main part of the show, someone lights the fuse for each individual firework, one by one. However, when it comes to the grand finale, they light just one fuse. More than 300 fireworks shoot up into the sky in about ten to fifteen seconds.
"You're standing right next to these big mortars when they go off. The excitement that comes off of those - is a very intense experience," Kirk said.
Even though the crew can't enjoy the show, they say the thrill of being there on the ground is just as exciting.
"It's indescribable. You just have to see it," Kirk said.
They light fireworks with a road flare. Why a road flare? It provides light, it burns for about fifteen minutes and the flame doesn't go out easily.
There is a 350 foot safety zone all around the area. Plus, there will be two fire trucks standing by in case anything goes wrong. Everyone who will be this close to the action has to wear all kinds of protective gear and clothing.
The company that puts on the Fun Fourth Fireworks show is called Hale Artificier. It's based out of Lexington.