For the last 20 years, Duke and Dawn Burge have hosted a Fourth of July party on their property that quickly became a local attraction. But when the Lake Grove property annexed into the city limits, Burge was forced to jump through hoops to light a firework at home.
In order to exercise his hobby in the community — the same one he’s called home for 27 years — Duke became a certified professional and even founded his own company, Diamond D Pyrotechnics.
Duke joked about how many licenses he has obtained over his lifetime. He listed a paramedic license, commercial pilot license, he is certified as a second mate for the U.S. Coast Guard, and he is also licensed to operate any ocean vessel flying a Liberian flag.
“I’m really a licensed dude,” he joked.
Duke called up his friend who was also the local fire chief and asked what he needed to do to provide a fireworks show following the annexation. It was simple for Burge — all he needed was another license.
Duke worked with the pyrotechnics company, Illumination Fireworks, to gain some professional experience. For the past three years, he has fired off shots at Frisco RoughRiders games, Baylor Bears game, FC Dallas games and the annual Mary Kay convention.
The hobby turned into a professional trade. He shot five shows with 1.3 class fireworks as an assistant and passed an exam and proved he was competent at the job.
The established pyro technician founded his own company, Diamond D Pyrotechnics. He now arranges about 15 shows annually with his local community at the Tex Plex, Maypearl, and the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s great and wonderful to do,” Duke expressed.
When the fireworks conclude, and the crowd screams to celebrates, that is the most satisfying feeling for Duke.
With state licenses, state permits, insurance and thousands of dollars worth of equipment, Diamond D Pyrotechnics applied to the City of Midlothian for a permit to shoot the show in city limits. The city council granted the permit and the show will go on. Duke said the show can be visible from the new City Park on Ashford.
He described the rush of setting off 17 minutes worth of fireworks, 350 feet in the air.
“It’s one of the few things you do in your life, shooting fireworks, where hundreds of people will applaud you," Burge pointed out. "People applaud when things are happening, and this is when I’ve done something that makes people happy.”
Even with the beautiful show, Duke has to file hundreds of pages in documents for each event he plans. He submits a site plan, material safety data sheet and other details to the state fire marshals’ office. Once it is revised the state permit is issued and then is taken to the city and a city permit is filed. Once the city permit is finalized, the city council votes to approve the fireworks show. This entire process takes about two months.
When Duke heard the unanimous vote on city council, he said “It felt pretty good. It’s just a lot of work to do this one little thing to shoot fireworks at my house.”
Since his pyrotechnics company was founded three years ago, Duke has donated the fireworks show to benefit the Midlothian Masonic Scholarship Foundation. Every dollar that is raised goes directly to the foundation to impact Midlothian ISD seniors. In the 2017-18 school year, the Foundation awarded $13,000 in scholarships.
“We would like to raise $3,000 to $4,000 for this show. If we can, then people will get a lot more value from it,” Burge expressed.
“The foundation is my big deal. Yeah I love fireworks, the Fourth of July and Christmas are my biggies so — and I’m a techie, so it all works together. But the scholarship foundation is the reason behind all of it,” Burge disclosed.
Donations toward the Midlothian Masonic Scholarship Foundation can be made at gofundme.com/diamondd4th.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450