Fire Officials: Leave The Fireworks To The Professionals This 4th Of July Season

STOW, MA — “Last year, several people lost fingers and suffered serious burns lighting off illegal fireworks in Massachusetts,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “Thirty-four firefighters were injured when an errant firework ignited a 6-family building. Have a fun but safe Fourth of July and leave the fireworks to the professionals.”

4th of July No Holiday for Firefighters

Needham Fire Chief Dennis Condon, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts, said, “The Fourth of July holiday is a busy time for firefighters. We are supervising the professional displays so that they are safe for spectators and licensed operators; we are busy responding to all types of fires and medical emergencies. In fact, the week of July Fourth 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.”

Fireworks Cause Many Dangerous Fires

Last summer, there were many fires, amputations and burn injuries from illegal fireworks in Massachusetts. In the past decade (2009-2018), there have been 800 major fires and explosions involving illegal fireworks in Massachusetts[1]. These incidents resulted in 12 civilian injuries, 39 fire service injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $2.5 million.

  • On June 25, 2018, people shooting fireworks in the street started a fire in a 6-unit Lynn apartment building. One ricocheted to the second floor porch and ignited several items. The fire spread to the rest of the second floor and to the third. Thirty-four firefighters were injured at this fire.
  • On July 2, 2018, the Worcester Fire Department was called to a fire in a 3-unit apartment building. The fire was started by fireworks igniting trash in a first floor doorway.
  • On July 3, 2018, Dartmouth District #1 responded to a pier fire at Anthony’s Beach. Crews discovered remains of many fireworks on and around the pier after the fire was extinguished.
  • On July 4, 2018, the Agawam Fire Department responded to a brush fire started by three juveniles who were using illegal fireworks.
  • On July 5, 2018, the Lynn Fire Department put out a car fire started by fireworks.

Fireworks Injuries

In the past decade (2009-2018), 38 people were treated at Massachusetts emergency rooms for severe burn injuries from fireworks (burns covering 5% of more of the body) according to the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS). Fifty-five percent of the victims were under age 25. Eighteen percent (18%) were between the ages of 15 and 24; 8% were between the ages of 10 and 14; 18% were between five and nine; and 11% were children under five. The youngest victim was a six-month old boy. These victims are scarred for life. In the past year:

  • A 22-year old man was seriously injured when roman candles were set off inside an Amherst apartment.
  • A 22-year old was injured in Gloucester playing with sparklers.
  • A 10-year old boy was injured by illegal fireworks at a Marshfield beach on July 3, 2018. He was an innocent by-stander.
  • A man lost part of his hand when a firework he was holding exploded. The explosion occurred in a Mansfield MBTA parking lot.
  • The Tewksbury Fire Department provided emergency medical care to a man who lost a part of every finger on his right hand when a firework he was holding exploded.
  • A 25-year old Brockton man suffered injuries to his left hand when a “cherry bomb” exploded.
  • A 22-year old Kingston man suffered injuries to his hands, face and stomach from a firework.

All Fireworks Are Illegal in Massachusetts

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 or higher. It is illegal to transport fireworks into Massachusetts, even if they were purchased legally elsewhere. Illegal fireworks can be confiscated on the spot.

For more information on the dangers of fireworks, go to the Department of Fire Services Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals.

(NOTE: The above press release is from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services.)

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