Fire Officials Urge the Public to Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals
“Already this year people have lost fingers lighting off illegal fireworks in Massachusetts,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “Have a fun but safe Fourth of July and leave the fireworks to the professionals,” he added.
4th of July No Holiday for Firefighters
Easthampton Fire Chief David A. Mottor, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massa-chusetts, said, “The Fourth of July holiday is a busy time for firefighters. We are supervising the professional displays so that they are conducted properly and safely for the viewing public; we’re busy responding to all types of fires and medical emergencies. In fact, the week of July 4 is one of the busiest times of the year for fires.”
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said, “This year, set a good example for your children. Just as children know where you keep the matches and lighters, they know where you stash your illegal fireworks.” He added, “Children imitate adults. If you use fireworks, children will copy you, not realizing how very dangerous fireworks are.” Fifty-one percent of fireworks-related burn injuries reported by hospitals to the Office of the State Fire Marshal in the last 10 years (2007-2016) were to children under age 18. More than a quarter of the victims, (28%), were children under age 10.
- On the night of July 9, 2016, the Boston Police Department responded to a Dorchester apartment for a 10-year old boy who lost four fingers from illegal fireworks.
- On July 3, 2016, an 8-year old Lawrence boy received burns to his chest. A firework hit him in the chest while he was watching illegal fireworks being set off at a neighbor’s house.
- On July 4, 2016, a 4-year old Lawrence boy received burns to his forehead and chin when an illegal firework hit him in the face.
- On July 15, 2016, at 4:26 p.m., the Plymouth Fire Department responded to Veterans Field where a 15-year old boy was injured lighting off consumer grade fireworks. He received a puncture wound to his abdomen as well as burns to one of his eyes and both hands.
- On October 8, 2016, at approximately 6 p.m., the Billerica Fire Department responded to an EMS call. A 20-year old man lost three fingers when an M-80 he was holding exploded in his hand.
Over 800 Major Fires & Explosions from Fireworks
In the past decade (2007-2016) there have been 826 major fire and explosion incidents involving illegal fireworks reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS). These incidents caused 11 civilian injuries, five fire service injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of $1.8 million. This is quite a substantial amount since most fireworks related fires are outside brush fires and do not usually have high loss figures, but can tax firefighters and tie up firefighting resources for an extensive amount of time.
- On May 13, 2016 at 1:35 a.m., the Watertown Fire Department responded to a fire in a detached garage with two vehicles inside started by fireworks. The heat was so intense that it broke the windows in the rear of the house. Luckily, the fire was knocked down before the fire extended to the home. Damages from this fire were estimated to be $45,000.
- On July 4, 2016, at 3:00 p.m., the Fitchburg Fire Department and mutual aid crews spent more than six hours fighting a 5-acre brush fire started by fireworks.
- On July 14, 2016, a 53-year old Lawrence man received burns to over 7% of his body surface area when he was setting off fireworks.
A majority of firework-related fires and injuries occurred during the week of the Fourth of July holiday.
- On July 2, 2016 at 10:43 p.m., the Boston Fire Department was called to a fire in a
6-unit apartment building started by fireworks. Fireworks maliciously thrown into the main entryway caused burns to wood floors and walls. Damages were estimated to be $500.
- On July 4, 2016, at 9:16 p.m., the Framingham Fire Department responded to a fire in a single-family home. Fireworks had landed on the roof and rolled into a roof vent with a nest inside. Damages from this fire were estimated to be $1,000.
- On July 4, 2016, at 3:56 p.m., the Plymouth Fire Department provided emergency medical services to a 22-year old man who was lighting off a consumer grade firework (Roman candle) in a parking lot. The firework fell over and hit him in the lower extremities causing a burn injury.
- On July 4, 2016, a 34-year old Lawrence man received burns to his chest and right hand when the fireworks he was holding exploded in his hand right after lighting it.
- On July 5, 2016, at 12:59 a.m., the Quincy Fire Department responded to a fire on a Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) pier burning in three different places. They also discovered a flaming fireworks canister approximately 4 inches wide. Estimated damages to public property were $2,000.
The possession and use of all fireworks by private citizens is illegal in Massachusetts. This includes Class C fireworks which are sometimes falsely called “safe and sane” fireworks. Class C fireworks include sparklers, party poppers, snappers, firecrackers, spinners, cherry bombs and more. Sparklers burn at 1800ºF. It is illegal to transport fireworks into Massachusetts, even if they were purchased legally elsewhere. Illegal fireworks can be confiscated on the spot.
- On June 23, 2016, at approximately 9:00 p.m., the State Police Bomb Squad, assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, secured a large amount of consumer grade fireworks seized during a routine motor vehicle stop in Sturbridge. The driver was arrested for numerous motor vehicle offenses.
For more information on the dangers of fireworks, go to the Department of Fire Services webpage Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals.