Editor's note: the following was submitted to Patch by Easton Fire Chief John Bast.
With the Independence Day holiday upon us the fireworks industry wants consumers to believe that their products are “Safe and Sane”.
Fireworks manufacturers will tell you that the number of people being injured by consumer fireworks has significantly decreased since 1976. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and International Association of Fire Chiefs are strongly opposed to any consumer use of fireworks.
In 2009, fireworks caused an estimated 18,000 reported fires, including 1,300 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in no reported deaths, and an estimated 30 civilian injuries and $38 million in direct property damage. In 2009, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 people for fireworks related injuries.
Half of the 2009 fireworks injuries were burns, while one-quarter were contusions and lacerations. Forty percent of the people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15. The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 10-14 with more than twice the risk for the general population. Sparklers and novelties alone accounted for 32% of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2009.
“Safe and Sane” fireworks are neither. There’s something wrong when an industry sells to amateurs pyrotechnic products that emit chemical-grade materials that when ignited create enough heat to melt glass and maim a person for life. Fireworks and sparklers are designed to explode or throw off showers of hot sparks. Temperatures may exceed 1200°F.
As fire officials, it’s our job to remind you, the public every year just before July 4th: “Please don’t teach your children how to use fireworks, remember they are watching what you do and follow your example.
Please don’t keep or ignite fireworks at home, don’t bring your fireworks to a public event; best yet leave them sitting on the vendor’s table.”
We encourage people to enjoy public displays of fireworks that comply with NFPA 1123. Codes and standards are designed to make sure pyrotechnicians are well trained, credentialed and insured and they know how to properly shoot their professional-grade pyrotechnics.
Additionally, local fire officials are there to ensure that the public-assembly areas are protected from hazards through compliance with the safe fallout distances prescribed within the standard. We don’t want to pay a professional visit your house or interview your child or children at the hospital.
Fire Chief John Bast
Easton Fire Department