By CHARLENE PAUL
Moapa Valley Progress
The Fourth of July festivities would not be complete without the annual fireworks show. And that fireworks show would not be possible without the expertise of licensed Pyro-technician, Elwin Brown of Overton. Brown has been supervising and executing the community fireworks display for nearly 20 years now.
“James Robison dragged me into this,” said Brown who first received his license in 2000. Robison had been the licensed technician for many years before that.
It is Brown’s job to order the fireworks, secure the necessary permits, insurance policy, and inspections. That process begins about six months before the Fourth of July Celebration.
The fireworks are delivered about three days before the celebration. The PVC pipes that house the fireworks shells are scrubbed, cleaned, and prepped.
Elwin creates a spreadsheet to help wire up the fireworks. They are then squibbed, a process that replaces the traditional fuses with electronic ignitors.
Elwin’s son, Steven Brown, who has been involved in the fireworks with his dad since he was very young, said there have been many changes over the years in the way the fireworks are detonated.
“I remember when we would get a flare, light the fuse, and run,” Brown said. “Today, the whole thing is computerized. At first, it was pretty complicated, but we re-did the system with a new board that has over 300 cues to set off the fireworks to the music.”
From about 7:00 PM to midnight on July 3, everything was painstakingly put into place by Elwin, his sons, and a team of volunteers. The volunteers of Logandale Fire Station 73 and Overton Fire Station 74, are on hand during the set-up and during the show to make sure safety protocols are closely followed. No cell phones or pagers are allowed anywhere near the fireworks to avoid any electronic interference. The firefighters are dressed in ‘turn-outs’ in case there is an emergency, and there is an ambulance with its crew standing by.
“My dad has been doing this for so many years, and he never takes a bow,” Steven said. “He doesn’t like to be in the public eye. He loves to help people and to see them smile. That’s why he does this.”
Elwin is not only a licensed pyro-technician, he is also a middle school math and science teacher at W. Mack Lyon Middle School. One of his former students, Heidi Higgins, had this to say about him: “I never thought I was very good at math until I was in Mr. Brown’s class. He was patient and taught me how to figure things out. He is the best teacher I ever had. He’s just a good guy.”
Ken Paul, principal at W. Mack Lyon, said, “Elwin is one of those teachers you wish you could clone. He is good at whatever he does. He is solid and gets the job done.”
Indeed, the valley is blessed to have Elwin Brown in our midst. In about six months, he will once again order the fireworks, apply for the permits, insurance, and inspections necessary to make next year’s Fourth of July celebration one to remember.
Donations for next year’s fireworks display can be made to the Moapa Valley Rotary Club.