Z. Kerul, who graduated in physics and has been shooting fireworks into the sky together with the Bliko team for almost 25 years, was once invited here when she was looking for a job.
“Almost 30 years ago, this company was founded by my friends. They would shoot fireworks and I would run after them in admiration just to see everything with my own eyes. And when I was looking for a job, I was offered to join the team – more hands were needed in production.
In order to work as a pyrotechnician, you do not need to be a graduate of special sciences, especially since there is no such scientific institution where we can get knowledge. Of course, chemists work in production, physicists often work with hardware, and all other subjects, I dare say, can be learned on the spot.
Now Bliko professionals are already sharing their experience – we prepare such courses ourselves for new pyrotechnicians. We teach how to handle equipment safely, how to shoot,” said Z. Kerul.
Not only that, Zita’s younger brother Andrejus also came to work at “Blika” after his sister. Now both pyrotechnicians are happy to see each other at work every day, and the husband also works in production.
“Work is a pleasure for both of us, my brother has also been working here for more than a decade – and he was fascinated by the fireworks.” We talk about our work at work – we no longer bring work talk to leisure, guests, family gatherings. Andrej is quieter, calmer, and I am more emotional,” the woman admitted.
At first, the parents were a bit worried about their children’s choice of work, but now they have come to terms with their choice. After all, the most important thing when shooting fireworks, just like driving a car, is safety, which he and his brother always carefully follow, and a cool mind.
Zita and Andrej could also be called cobblers without shoes – they don’t set off fireworks on personal holidays, their own or their parents’ birthdays. Why?
“When you do this almost every day, you already want to rest and relax in your personal space. After all, shooting fireworks is a big responsibility, always and everywhere safety requirements are important. This is work that we leave behind the door when we are with family or relatives,” said the pyrotechnician.
Beauty, romance, impression – these are the emotions viewers take away from fireworks festivals. Do pyrotechnicians manage to admire their creations in the sky, or are they only interested in technical solutions and how best to implement them?
“For me, the desire to see fireworks depends on my spiritual state and mood. When I first started working, all fireworks were a sight of special beauty to me. But when you become responsible for the spectacle, the safety of the team members and the audience becomes more important than beauty: I watch for stars falling into the crowd.
Of course, it’s beautiful, but you can’t relax. When you’re not in charge, you’re just a spectator – enjoying, admiring. But only when others are shooting. My passion for fireworks hasn’t really gone yet,” the woman smiled.
When Zita started working with fireworks, each one had to be set off in time by pressing a button.
It was necessary not only to hit the rhythm of the music, but also to calculate exactly how long it would take for the firework to sparkle in the sky after pressing the button.
“There were only one musical fireworks as a result – it was an extremely difficult task. Now technology is advancing, our work is much simpler – we have a computer program where everything is set up, we know our products – how many seconds pass from release to unfolding in the sky, we can predict the drawing on the computer screen. Working with these technologies is much easier.
Knowledge, sense of music, programming is the responsibility of our pyrodesigner. Our great work is now long before the beauty—the brief effect—is appreciated by the audience. My work is technical. Our engine is the audience’s gasps,” said Z. Kerul.
When asked if there are places where fireworks would never be allowed, Zita assured that there have been times when they had to change the shooting location or ask guests to go a little further for safety reasons.
“It’s not safe to shoot in the middle of the forest or in the middle of a crowd, but fireworks on the water are amazing. We have pontoon rafts and we put fireworks on them. It’s both safe and beautiful – the fireworks are reflected in the water, so the view is even more beautiful,” said the woman.
Almost all her weekends are at work, and the work of a pyrotechnician is part of the entertainment business, so, just like singers or actors, the “Bliko” team usually works on days off and holidays.
“When I buy a ticket for a concert that takes place on the weekend, I warn the team about the day off six months in advance. We are part of the entertainment business, the quietest time is February, March, November,” said Z. Kerul.
Zita has repeatedly heard rumors that the work of a pyrotechnician is not for women, because it is physically difficult: you have to carry boxes and know technical things. However, Z. Kerul is happy that there are more and more female pyrotechnicians. It is especially fun to chat with the fairer sex at festivals abroad – you can meet many more women here.
“If I have to go to an event alone, I choose simpler fireworks. I wouldn’t set off a big firework alone: I know how to connect wires, but I can hardly lift them. Apparently, that’s why we meet more men here than women,” thought Zita.
Is it difficult for a woman to work in a man’s world?
Once upon a time, when she started going to events, it happened that those who ordered the fireworks would look askance at her. Zita has repeatedly heard team members assure the client that she will do everything perfectly.
However, dresses, high heels or fancy manicures are not for Zita. A fan of sports style, she doesn’t like dresses, and she gave up manicure a long time ago – it just doesn’t last.
“I’m not a dresser, I like casual clothes. Especially since I have two dogs with whom we go out into nature every day. I like to go to the countryside, and my biggest passion is traveling. I like sightseeing trips. I try to go somewhere at least twice a year. I don’t like to lie on the beach – and I don’t lie on our seashore, I walk, ride a bicycle, spend my time actively,” assured the woman.
At the beginning of September, Lithuanians who appeared in the competitive program of the Pyronale 2022 festival were most impressed by the huge area for fireworks in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
“Shooting fireworks there is a great pleasure. Distances are long, security is perfectly ensured. A large field gives the opportunity to display fireworks more widely, it is not obstructed by trees, spectators standing closer or pedestrians walking in an unsafe area.
For a professional, watching the fireworks while relaxing is a great joy. Let’s not talk about meetings with other teams from all over the world, getting to know each other and making friends,” said Zita.
Lithuanians who participated in the festival with representatives of countries with such old traditions of shooting fireworks as Brazil, Mexico, and Switzerland were once again convinced: Lithuania is not such a small grain here.
The Bliko team, which has been working for almost 30 years, has already gained a lot of experience not only in festivals. And festivals provide invaluable experience and allow you to see the best works of representatives of other countries.
“We get great opportunities, we get new ideas. Each country’s pyrotechnicians have their own performance style. The Mexicans surprised the commission and the audience with their sound, others with their colors, and the main highlight of our performance was the combination of fireworks and music. Combining music with fire makes even a small firework show big. People in Lithuania already understand that music is very important. In many of our performances, explosions go well with the music, which leaves an indelible impression,” said the woman.
Although fireworks displays may seem like a matter of taste, pyrotechnicians who prepare programs are given instructions that must be followed.
For example, in Berlin, the team had to shoot in silence for a few minutes and release only two colors of fireworks – white and blue – into the sky.
During the next performance, all teams had to shoot to the same piece.
A third was presented with a long list of classical music, and his team had to choose at least four and create a sky show based on them. The entire program should have lasted no longer than 15 minutes.
“Without underestimating our experience and skill, I will say that luck was also on our side in Berlin. If we talk about taste, yes, for example, I liked Switzerland’s performance in Berlin much more than Estonia’s, but the second place was won by the latter. The commission apparently saw the mistakes of the Swiss”, Z. Kerul smiled.
Asked to recall her most impressive fireworks display, the woman laughed that it was a mission impossible. Because every time the impressions are different, always new. What was the most beautiful a few years ago is already forgotten, because other fire performances have already fallen into my heart.
“Recently, I let off not the biggest fireworks at a wedding, but the weather and environment were favorable, there was no fog, no wind, so everything went perfectly, the fireworks went off in a pitch-black sky, because we were shooting outside the city, where there were no other lights, – it was bright, nice
The guests kept coming and going to give thanks. People’s gratitude, their gasps are a big part of the pleasure of our work. After all, we work for them, for their joy. However, I’ve also had some amazing huge shows to roaring crowds. And for me, those fireworks were so beautiful… Such cases are sad,” Z. Kerul did not hide.
For pyrotechnics, the most beautiful fireworks are not too long, so that the viewer does not get tired of enjoying. The most effective are the comets produced by “Bliko”: yellow and long, spreading from the ground to the sky and golden balls that match them. Zita has never seen such anywhere else.
There are also failures in her work – if you have already pressed the button, you will not return the fireworks back. A fountain that didn’t start spraying at the right time or a firework that went off – human errors from which none of us are immune. However, viewers often do not even notice such mistakes.
And for those who postulate that fireworks are huge money released into the air, the woman who has been creating spectacular spectacles in the sky for many years has something to answer: why go to the cinema, if the movie will be shown on TV in 10 years? Maybe such people don’t go to concerts or performances?
Fireworks are not only entertainment that lifts the mood and forgets problems, but is also a part of culture.
Vilnius residents will also see the program of the winners
– At the “Vilnius Fejerija” festival, which will be held in the capital of Lithuania on September 24, the audience will see the performance of “Bliko”, which was appreciated by both the international commission and the audience in Berlin – it took the first place.
– The feeling when you participate in a festival abroad and when you are in Vingios Park in Vilnius is different: while preparing a show in the capital, Z. Kerul is proud that her compatriots can also see such a program. In addition, the woman who receives and cares for foreign guests is happy that the Vilnius festival is also an event desired by teams from other countries.
– “I always show guests Senamiestis, Užupis, I always take them to try zeppelins. Here, at home, my main work is communication with guests, organizational matters. In Vingis Park, I enjoy the spectacle: I relax and watch the fireworks,” said Z. Kerul.
– Pyrotechnicians from Poland, Romania and Mexico will test their strength in the competition program this year in Vingios Park. The performance of the Lithuanian “Bliko” is a gift to the audience, they are preparing the closing program of the festival.