Smokey and the Bandits

Once again, the realms of Palace have provided a debate. This time it is on metallic based, flammable powders in a container, also known as smoke or pyro. We asked for your views on the usual mediums of Facebook and Twitter. This time, it has provided a few responses. Some to be expected, and some not so.

Smoke ‘bombs’, ‘flares’, ‘tins’ and ‘containers’ are a central part to the ultras scenes of countries such as Italy, Germany and most of the influential nations around the ultra world. Even in the nation in which I live, smoke and ultras go hand in hand. They provide colour, a sense of community, and most of all, atmosphere. I have personal experience of being a pyromaniac in the tiny grounds of Ireland. My nearest teams, Bohemians, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers, have had some brilliant ultras who utilise this to the maximum. It has to be one of my favourite parts of a game of football here.


Shamrock Rovers’ SRFC Ultras display v Sligo Rovers, 6th October 2013, FAI Cup at the Showgrounds.

Smoke is not dangerous, as many people have led on recently. I know there have been claims recently on Palace forums that it affects asthmatics. I am sorry, but if you can stand the acrid smoke in the Whitehorse concourse during half time, you can put up with smoke ‘bombs’. Smoke from cigarettes is more dense than the usual potassium nitrate (KNO3) based smoke bomb. The majority of asthmatics do not get affected by a “smoke density of less than 283 cubic cm.” [1] In contrary to the risk of smoking second hand, which has a smoke density of “293 cubic cm” [2] per meter cubed of air. This means either the person who needed an “oxygen mask” on the BBS either has extremely sensitive asthma or is just commenting to cause a scene. I fear the latter due to lack of evidence.

Another issue that has been brought up is noise. What do you expect? A wholly silent smoke bomb? The HF use smoke bombs and grenades, and due to their intended use (for airsoft and paintball), must have a noise. It is a legal requirement for the Class C firework. Class C fireworks are “low explosives such as igniters, fuses and “common fireworks”, which were the smaller and less powerful fireworks available for sale to and use by the general public.” It is as common as a Roman candle or a Catherine wheel. These both make noise as well.

Chemical compounds of smoke bombs range from the crude to the sublime. Simplistic smoke bombs can be made from tin foil and a ping pong ball. These are dangerous. However, professional ones are made from Potassium Chlorate, Sucrose and an organic dye, usually. These are perfectly safe, and usually have safe guards against heat and auto-ignition. If the dye is Rhodium-B based, beware. There is a direct correlation to both lung cancer and toxicity to the environment. Most ultras shops are thankfully using organic dyes though.

Do I agree with use of pyrotechnics? I support the use of smoke and flares in football stadia, as long as they are not thrown around the stadiums. This is a direct fire hazard (See video above). The reason why I do agree is that it aids the atmosphere by making our fans quite noticeable and intimidating (but not in a Millwall way). We want a fortress Selhurst, and if this is to be a achieved, we need to attack every sense. Dazzle the opposition with an atmosphere that smells like sulphur and looks colourful. It may provide more results.

[1] Donald T. Wigle, 2003. Child Health and the Environment (Medicine). 1 Edition. Oxford University Press, USA.
[2] Donald T. Wigle, 2003. Child Health and the Environment (Medicine). 1 Edition. Oxford University Press, USA.

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