My Heroes Wear Orange Vests

I have been going to Burning Man for more than 25 years, and working it from the inside for 20. After two decades, I thought my threshold for awesome was fairly high. However, in 2017, on the Sunday of the Temple Burn, I watched hundreds of my old friends, new friends and coworkers gather at the 9:00 position of the perimeter to help hold the line and ensure we could do what we do. You know what? My awesometer was pegged!

I love a good fire, but what I love more is seeing my friends’ faces lit in the glow of that fire, their bodies adorned by the badge of honor and Burner spirit that is the orange vest.

The Burn Perimeter Support Group: B.P.S.G.

We orange-vest people have worked hard over the past few years to create a new team, the Burn Perimeter Support Group. B.P.S.G. has a straightforward but critical mission: to help artists staff their burn perimeters and keep the citizens of Black Rock City on the other side of the line. Team members arrive an hour or more before an art burn to establish the perimeter, engage with participants, and help ensure a safe, fun burn. These folks are part of the burn team, yet they face outward toward the crowds with a watchful and caring eye.

After the incredible response to our call for help last year with the Temple, I realized there was great pride in working burn perimeters. In 2018, we’re offering perimeter support to more than 20 burn projects, including the Temple and the Man. In recognition of the significance of this team and the efforts of those who stand the line, we’re providing sweet Burn Perimeter Support Team shirts!

Please sign up for B.P.S.G. via your Burner Profile, and we will keep you posted with a burn schedule, a pre-event online training date, and a link to shiftboard to sign up for specific burns.

The Man and the Crowd (Photo by Sidney Erthal)

Why B.P.S.G. Matters to Me

I was up most of the night on Saturday after the tragic incident at the Man Burn and awoke Sunday burned out and anxious about the Temple Burn. We had put out a call for help with the Temple perimeter, and we had to have a strong turnout to make the burn possible. By the time I arrived at the Temple perimeter that evening, I found hundreds of volunteers already on site! I could read the looks on the faces of the tough DPW folks; I could feel the passion of the black-clad Gate crew. I knew what every Greeter, department manager, volunteer of every sort and even board members were thinking as more and more showed up and put on an orange vest. They were all thinking the same thing I was thinking and feeling…

We had to do this.

Larry Harvey used to say that if we were presented with a fierce alligator in our way, we would each take a bite and overcome the most extreme impediments to the event together. That Sunday night, less than 24 hours after a painful tragedy, we did just that.

If you want to be a part of that, sign up for B.P.S.G. this year.


(Top photo by Paulius Musteikis)

About the author: DaveX

As a child Dave X sought out activities considered naughty by some, including his parents. In doing so he noticed that through the organization of others he could achieve greater levels of naughtiness. As he grew older Dave X was always looking behind the curtain to see who the wizard really was and how his mysterious machines worked. It was only natural that he would bring the traits of organization and mechanical curiosity together in his future work. In 1992 he was lured to the Black Rock Desert when he discovered a strange group called The Cacophony Society. Wonders and curiosities were discovered as he crossed to a new reality and he knew he had seen the future. This future was made of wood and stood tall and proud on the desert floor before taking flight to the spirits in a blaze of fire. In 1999 after several years of creating large-scale fire installations he realized that the use of fire and fuel had grown to a tipping point. He saw that the time had come to either self regulate its use or face outside regulation. Under the guidance of Crimson Rose he began his career with the Performance Safety Team and sought trainings and licensing so that he could create guidelines for the use of fire and fuels that would ensure the spectacle and ritual of their use while preventing their misuse. Dave X is now the Manager of the Fire Art Safety Team and holds several certifications for fuel management as well as being a licensed Pyrotechnic Operator.

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