Fireworks Company Must Pay Man Burned During Traditional Sparking-Donkey Dance

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The Australian company Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics Ltd. has been fined over $80,000 by a government agency that found it responsible for burns suffered by a volunteer during a performance at an elementary school. The report does not provide many details, which is unfortunate, given the ones that it does provide:

[The agency] says fireworks were ignited around an area where the man was performing a traditional donkey dance wearing a costume which also emitted sparks.

He had performed the dance at the religious community event for years.

"During the performance, the 59-year-old man moved to an area where the sparks from his costume ignited a ground flare, resulting in a fireball which burned his hands and face," [the agency] said.

The magistrate apparently found that the company erred by offering the donkey dancer personal protective equipment that was unsuitable for use with the costume.

A number of questions come to mind.

  • I should probably know this, but which religious tradition is it that involves a dancing, sparking donkey?
  • I found references to a "donkey dance" tradition in China, but it doesn't seem to be religious in nature. Actually, since the description says "[t]he 'donkey' sometimes goes fast, sometimes goes slow and sometimes falls in a pit while the man works up a big sweat wrestling and struggling with the animal," I guess it doesn't seem very religious at all.
  • I suppose I'm only assuming this is part of a religious tradition because it was reportedly performed at a "religious community event." But for all I know, this guy just has a "tradition" of showing up in his burning donkey costume every year, and they let him do his thing.
  • What kind of "personal protective equipment" would you offer someone wearing a donkey suit? Maybe a better question is, what kind would be "unsuitable for use" with such a suit?
  • Maybe an even better question is, if his donkey suit gives off sparks to begin with, why doesn't he already have his own personal protective equipment?
  • Most importantly, how do you let a sparking donkey dancer get within a mile of a massive professional fireworks setup?

I hope to have answers to at least some of these questions in the near future.