PGI Display Operator Certification (DOC) Course

What is the PGI Display Operator Certification?

As one of the largest pyrotechnics organizations in the world, with a primary interest in Safety, the Pyrotechnics Guild International believes that well trained and prepared Display Operators are essential for improving and maintaining both the Safety and the Artistry of Fireworks Displays.

The PGI Display Operator Certification (DOC) Course or PGI Course is, designed to meet the need for both a "Basic" course in Fireworks Display Safety and as the first step in an optional Certification Process which, when completed results in the successful trainee becoming a PGI Certified Display Operator.

The course closely adheres to well-established Shoot Site Safety Practices and to the Safety Guidelines of the PGI and is congruent with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Codes 1123 & 1124. These two codes cover the Transportation, Handling, Storage of 1.3G Display Fireworks and the Planning, Setup and Operation of 1.3G Displays.

Note: You DO NOT need to be a PGI Member in order to become a PGI Certified Display Operator.

Why should I take the PGI DOC?

NFPA Codes are relied upon in most locales and are often mandated by Insurers of Fireworks Displays in the United States. Knowledge of and compliance with these codes ensures that displays adhere to the standards expected by both local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) and, very likely, by your Insurance Carrier. More importantly, this knowledge will help the display operator conduct safer displays.

The PGI Display Operator Training course is a nationally accepted training program for those conducting fireworks displays. Our instructors are all Certified Display Operators with many years of experience in the safe handling of Display Fireworks. The course was designed by your Pyrotechnics peers, based upon the sum of their knowledge and experience and in accordance with the most current NFPA Codes. The PGI DOC Course will impart to you the information you need to help avoid common mistakes and to deal with situations commonly encountered to help keep your Displays safe and legal.

Many states and municipalities look for this or other certification when hiring display companies to perform their fireworks displays and some states require certification before an individual may be allowed to operate a display in their state or to obtain a display permit.

PGI Display Operator Certification gives sponsors assurance that the people conducting a fireworks display have had formal training, experience, and have a basic understanding of the rules and regulations concerning display fireworks.

Whether you take the course for PGI Certification or not, it provides good, safety-based information, which is helpful to anyone who wants to shoot or who currently does shoot 1.3G Fireworks at any skill level.

Who should take the PGI DOC?

Anyone over the age of 18, who wants to shoot or who does shoot 1.3G Display Fireworks at any skill level, will take something of value away from this training.

If you are an occasional shooter or only work on the crew to setup displays, you will find this course valuable for increasing your safety and overall fireworks display setup/operation knowledge.

If you have previously taken the PGI Course but, it has been several years you may want to take it again to remain fresh and up to date on the latest information whether you are PGI Certified or not as it has most certainly changed.

Because the PGI DOC is designed for Certification (see below for details), it is regularly updated to reflect the most current versions of NFPA Code and the latest in Safety Techniques.

Should I become a Certified Display Operator?

If you are a professional shooter or a hobbyist, over the age of 21 who is most often the Lead Shooter on the Displays you work on, the course is highly recommended for you and is the first step in the overall PGI Display Operator Certification process.

Additionally, if you live/work in an area where the PGI Certification is, accepted as equivalent to your state or local fireworks Display Operator Licensing, the PGI DOC (Display Operator Certification) may serve as an alternative to your State License. Check with your Local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction), Fire Department or your State Fire Marshal Office if unsure if this applies to you. Some jurisdictions require independent licensure, but accept PGI certification as proof of training and eligibility to take the state licensure examination.

Your PGI Display Operator Certification shows your clients, potential employers, show sponsors and your peers that you are serious about Pyrotechnics, that you have experience, have been, trained, are competent to conduct 1.3G Displays and are able to comply with current codes and safety practices.

What is involved in taking the Course?

The PGI Display Operators coursework is given as a one-day class, concluding with demos of malfunctions and hands-on, live fire training. Course attendees must attend the class, pass a written test with a score of 80% (60 of 75) or better, and demonstrate to our instructors that they have the ability to hand-fire shells safely while under our supervision.

Note: The Test may be, administered orally as well, for those with Learning Disabilities, who are Sight-Impaired or those who just have trouble taking written tests. Please ask your trainer at the beginning of the class if you wish to take the test orally and they will be happy to accommodate your needs.

A copy of the current version of the PGI Display Operator Textbook (300+ pages) is used during the class and is yours to keep as a valuable reference tool.

If you are interested in becoming a PGI Certified Display Operator, an application form is included in the textbook and is the form you will use to document your display experience (see below).

What am I expected to do to become certified?

If you decide that Certification is for you and once the coursework described above is completed, the course attendee must additionally demonstrate experience in working fireworks displays by documenting his/her having worked on FOUR 1.3G Displays (in any significant crew capacity) and ONE 1.3G Display as EITHER Lead or CO-Lead Shooter.

(Note: This Co-Lead provision is, allowed because in some areas, you must first be certified. in order to be Lead Shooter on a show. As Co-Lead, you must participate in ALL activities the Lead Shooter is involved in.)

Acceptable documentation is provided using any written statement (on club or company letterhead or by signing the form supplied in the textbook) by the Lead Operator of the show(s) you worked, the date(s) of the Display(s) and the type of Display (must have been a "Professional" 1.3G - not - a "Consumer" 1.4G Display).

If the display(s) you worked were your own (and you were the Lead), you are on an honor system and may vouch for your own shows so long as they were legal (permitted) 1.3G shows. (It helps to include copies of the permits).

If you have show experience and this is your initial (first time) PGI Certification, you may use prior experience to document the course requirements. In other words, if you have not been PGI Certified before and have been shooting fireworks for a number of years, you may use prior displays as proof of your experience, provided you can document these and they were legal (permitted) 1.3G Displays.

If you are new to Pyrotechnics, you should document your experience as you gain it. There is no time limit on how long between your coursework (PGI Class) and when you apply initially for PGI Display Operator Certification. If you are only shooting only one show per year, this means that so long as on one of the first five shows you do you are either the Lead or the Co-Lead Shooter, in five years, you may apply for your (initial) Certification.

To reduce the time required, most clubs and/or display companies in your area are happy to have you work displays with them to gain experience. Check the 'Directory' pages on this site (links on the left side of this page) for a nationwide listing of Clubs, Display Operators and Distributors who will be able to help you find shows to work on in your area.

Once all this information is, documented:

Your test score from the class (we will have this recorded already), the documentation of your display experience on our application form, with supporting documentation as needed, and a $10 processing fee is sent to the PGI at the address shown on the current form. You will then be designated as a PGI Certified Display Operator and are issued a certificate and wallet identification card.

I've been certified before, now what?

Once you've become a PGI Certified Display Operator, your certification must be renewed every three years. In order to renew your certification, you must:

1) Document having been the lead operator on at least 5 displays within the last 3 years.

2) Document at least 8 hours of continuing education. (Please include the course title, location, date, and instructor name and contact information)

3) Download and complete the PGI DOC Renewal Request,

4) Send a check for $10.00 (processing fee) made out to "Pyrotechnics Guild International Inc." and above mentioned documentation to:

Dr. John Steinberg
3944 Carthage Road
Randallstown, MD 21133

Recently, there has been some confusion about what types of classes are acceptable as continuing education credits towards renewal of your Display Operator Certification. The class must reiterate or reinforce the skills and knowledge utilized by lead operators. The course must be relevant to being a display operator.

Acceptable classes include: safety training provided by fireworks companies, DOT HazMat training as it specifically relates to the transportation of fireworks, classes pertaining to ATF regulation compliance as these regulations relate to conducting a display and classes based on NFPA 1123 or 1126 codes as well as the PGI DOC itself.

It may be necessary to take several classes to total 8 hours of continuing education. The PGI DOC counts as 8 hours of continuing education. Only those portions of a class that relate to conducting a display will count as continuing education toward your renewal.

There are a number of other fireworks related classes that are not acceptable as continuing education credits towards your PGI DOC renewal. The material covered in these courses does not relate to conducting a display. Classes on manufacturing fireworks, how to obtain an ATF permit or license, etc. will not be considered toward renewal of your certification.

We encourage all of you to stay safe and to always keep learning.

If you have questions about renewing your PGI Display Operator Certification, such as whether a course or class would count towards your recertification, please contact the PGI Training Program at .

Please note that PGI DOC Certified Trainers must be Certified Display Operators and also need to recertify every 3 years to maintain their credentials as Certified Trainers.

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