For Immediate Release - June 23, 2014

State Fire Marshal & National Fire Officials Urge the Public to “Be Smart! Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals”

Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and National Fire Protection Association President James Shannon urged the public to “leave the fireworks to the professionals this year.”

“Consumer fireworks are so inherently dangerous that they should not be used,” said Jim Shannon, President of the National Fire Protection Association. “Each year we see fires and injuries associated with the use of consumer fireworks, placing an undue burden on our fire service and emergency responders unnecessarily.”

“I can understand the attraction and excitement of fireworks. We all can. But we can also understand the danger,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. “I realize we cannot stop 100% of illegal fireworks use in our state, but our strong law and public education efforts are effective at keeping the fires and injuries lower than where they are allowed. So please, leave the fireworks to the professionals.”

MA Fireworks Law Effective in Reducing Fires and Injuries
Some fireworks are legal in Washington state which has about the same size population as Massachusetts. They experience almost twice as many fires from fireworks, and have 45 injuries from fireworks for every one we experience here in the Commonwealth.

CPSC Says Thousands of Fireworks Injuries Treated at Emergency Rooms Annually
Nationally as well as here in Massachusetts, the majority of fireworks victims are children under 15. Somehow, they got their hands on fireworks purchased by an adult. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fireworks injuries send over 2,500 children under age 15 to emergency rooms each year in the U.S. around the 4th of July. These victims are not old enough to legally use or purchase fireworks in any state. It is important for adults to set a good example. Children will imitate adults and think they can use them safely and there are no do-overs when it comes to these injuries to children’s eyes, hands and skin.

Fireworks Are Neither Safe Nor Sane
The pyrotechnic companies with their professional marketing techniques would have us believe that certain fireworks are safe by calling them “safe and sane” when in fact they are neither. Even sparklers burn at over 1200 degrees F. No one would hand a lit match to a child, which burns at about 500 degrees F.

 

How hot does a sparkler burn?

Nebraska Just Banned Wire Sparklers
The state of Nebraska banned wire sparklers starting this year because they burn at temperatures hot enough to melt glass and are a leading cause of fireworks injuries to children.

Father of Injured Toddler Says ‘Don’t Make the Same Mistake I Did’
“Please take a few minutes to watch a video on our website of a father who thought he was doing everything right to create a safe and fun, albeit illegal, 4th of July celebration. Something went horribly wrong in an instant and his toddler son was badly injured by fireworks going up his shorts instead of out over the water. He learned the hard way about the unpredictability of fireworks. His family will spend decades paying for what was supposed to be a few minutes of fun. Even he says, ‘Leave the fireworks to the professionals,’” said Coan. Video can be found at www.mass.gov/dfs and click on Fireworks under What’s New, or on our YouTube™ Channel at www.YouTube.com/DFSOSFM.

Massachusetts Incidents
In the past year in Massachusetts, the illegal use of fireworks caused several terrible incidents despite our best efforts to educate the public.

  • On March 20, 2014, the Abington Fire Department responded to a fireworks explosion in an apartment complex. A youth’s hand was amputated and a 31-year old man was injured when consumer grade fireworks exploded inside his apartment.
  • On September 20, 2013, a 38-year old Boston man received severe chemical burns to approximately 30% of his body while experimenting at home with chemicals and fireworks that exploded.
  • On August 10, 2013, a 33-year old Beverly man was holding a handful of sparklers. While trying to light one sparkler, he inadvertently ignited them all and burned his hands.
  • On August 4, 2013, the Chicopee Fire Department responded to a fireworks explosion that severely injured a resident’s hand and also injured his young son. The State Police Bomb Squad was called to dispose of the illegal commercial grade fireworks.
  • On July 7, 2013, the Plymouth Fire Department was dispatched to a fire in a boat house. Someone ignited fireworks near storage supplies that started the fire. Damages were estimated at $4,000.
  • On July 5, 2013, the Lowell Fire Department responded to a fire in an 8-unit apartment building. Fireworks set off inside a trash can on a porch started the fire.
  • On July 4, 2013, the Worcester Fire Department responded to a fire in a 3-unit apartment building. Fireworks ignited the roof. One firefighter was injured at this fire and damages were estimated at $12,000.
  • On June 5, 2013, an 8-year old girl sat on a sparkler that ignited her dress. She received burns to 7% of her body.
  • On March 18, 2013, a 19-year old Dartmouth man severely burned his hand when fireworks exploded inside his home.
  • On January 9, 2013, Belmont firefighters extinguished two fires in one car; one in the passenger seat and one in the trunk. Smoldering fireworks caused the fires. Damage to the vehicle was estimated at $5,000.

Fire Departments Ensuring Safe Public Displays
State and local fire officials across the state are working to ensure the professional supervised fireworks displays are safe for spectators and professional shooters. The Office of the State Fire Marshal licenses professional fireworks shooters and ensures we have modern regulations so those shows are as safe as possible for everyone. The Department of Fire Services Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit works closely with local fire departments to make sure those regulations are closely followed. As a result, fireworks mishaps and injuries at professional shows are rare in our state. Coan said, “At illegal shows, there is no licensed, trained shooter, no one is setting safe distances for the audience, no fire engine or EMT is standing by, and sadly alcohol is often involved and judgment impaired.” He added, “It is these illegal shows, often at waterfront property, where most of the horror shows take place – the most terrible injuries and resulting law suits.”

Video for Media
Links to fireworks video files (.mov format) can be found on www.nfpa.org/fireworks. Several other YouTube™ videos are linked on this page. If you have questions regarding available video files/formats, contact the National Fire Protection Association at (617) 984-7275 or publicaffairs@nfpa.org.

Additional Media Resources:

DFS Fireworks Safety Webpage

NFPA Fireworks Videoclips

www.YouTube.com/DFSOSFM

DFS Fireworks Fire Prevention Webpage