San Diego’s Big Batch of Fireworks – At Least Nobody Was Hurt


Did you hear about the fireworks mishap in San Diego on the 4th? Instead of a planned 20-minute show, there was a “glitch” that led to ALL of the fireworks being set off in a 15-second explosion-azanga.

I don't know if the root cause will be made public. I find cases like this to be fascinating, especially because the show wasn't being run by amateurs. The show was produced by one of the biggest names in the fireworks world –  Garden State Fireworks, “who's lineage dates back to the 1860s, and Victor Emmanuel II, King of Italy.

From this blog post:

Perhaps this is why August Santore, the third generation co-owner, was able to put the Big Boom in perspective.

“Thank goodness no one was injured,” he said. “Precautions all worked 100 percent. “We are a good strong company, and we rely on technology. We'll take the ridicule as long as no one was injured.”

We wouldn't be able to laugh about this if a worker or spectator had been injured. Apparently, safety precautions worked, but any precautions that would prevent the fireworks from all going off at the same time didn't work. It could be, I'm just guessing, that having them all shoot UP is safer and leads to a better outcome than the fireworks exploding on the barge or barges.

I would hope they are looking for process problems and how to prevent that problem from reoccurring, rather than simply assigning blame and firing somebody.

The blog post I linked to above made an interesting point… instead of the simultaneous mega fireworks explosion being deemed a “mishap” or a defect, it should be seen as value:

The Associated Press called it a “fireworks flop,” and quoted grumbling by planners (but no fans). There's talk that Garden State should make some sort of reimbursement.

Here's an idea: maybe Garden State should charge planners for the worldwide publicity it brought to their local event. The explosion video made every major newscast, coast to coast, and some internationally. The YouTube hits are 900,000 and counting. Here at, nearly 60,000 people  checked out the video.

Here's another idea: Garden State should maybe market the idea. Instead of a 20-minute display, you get one big boom: The Grandest Finale!

Brilliant idea, although that wasn't the value promised to San Diego.

Here is the video… and, again, it's only 15 seconds of your time required!

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Caused by a computer glitch?

    “A computer glitch that mistakenly opened up circuits at each launch location apparently was to blame, Santore said Friday. The Berkeley Heights resident wasn’t ruling out the possibility that a virus of some kind contributed to the mishap, which occurred with Santore’s son, August Jr., at the control panel in San Diego.”

    Source: LINK


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