National stadium to stage its largest indoor fireworks display for this year's NDP

Fireworks display at the National Day Parade National Education Show 2 on July 16, 2016.
Fireworks display at the National Day Parade National Education Show 2 on July 16, 2016. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Anticipation for this year's National Day Parade (NDP) and its homecoming to Kallang after a decade is building, as the first of two Preview shows kicked off on Saturday evening (July 23).

Spectators started streaming into the Sports Hub as early as 4pm. Among them was trade manager Chia Pei Fang, 28, who was watching the parade "live" for the first time.

"I'm looking forward to basking in the atmosphere at the stadium. It's definitely different from joining in the celebrations along Marina Bay in previous years," said Ms Chia, who had successfully balloted for tickets. She was joined by her mother, sister and a friend.

This year, they will be brought closer to the revelry and colours of the firework display segment, with the use of indoor fireworks for the first time in NDP history.

Such fireworks are set off at relatively low heights within the national stadium. They include fireworks that illuminate the stadium 45m above the ground.

This will be the largest indoor fireworks display to be staged inside the dome-shaped, 55,000-seat national stadium thus far, roughly five times more fireworks than that used during the opening and closing ceremonies of the South-east Asian Games in 2015.

"From the ground up, there will be the comets and mines," said Military Expert 4 (ME4) Joel Li, chief safety officer of the Fireworks Committee, referring to different types of fireworks. "And for the fireworks flying downwards, we will have the airbursts for a longer burning effect," he added.

The parade will feature a synchronised array of lights, lasers and flame projectors dancing to upbeat remixes of popular NDP songs, together with a spectacular fireworks display outdoors at the Kallang Basin.

The effects are achieved using 16 flame projectors, 36 high-powered lasers and about 1,000 units of lights.

Preparations for the indoor fireworks typically begin four days in advance, when the fireworks are delivered to an area near the stadium.

A team of 50 contractors and Singapore Armed Forces soldiers are roped in each week for the massive task, which includes packing the fireworks into 98 pyrotechnic boxes. After they are transported to the stadium, the pyrotechnic boxes are connected to wires at 36 locations lining the sides of the stage and 26 along the sides of the four ramps.

Overhead, six horizontal fireworks structures are hoisted 45m high and secured to the roof of the stadium. Line checks and system rehearsals are also carried out a day before the show.

"The topmost consideration for us would definitely be safety for the audience and performers. The indoor fireworks are cleared by an independent safety board and many safety measures are put in place," said ME4 Li.

He added that the pyrotechnic boxes are installed at least 5m away from the performers and 15m from spectators, according to international safety guidelines. Fans are also used to improve the air quality and flow.