NFPA Journal®, July/August 2006
Every year NFPA warns the public about the dangers of consumer fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches. Our position has been unequivocal on fireworks since 1910. We believe that fireworks are too dangerous to be used by consumers. We believe that the proper way to enjoy fireworks displays and celebrate our nation’s birthday is to attend public fireworks displays where only trained personnel will be involved in their use.
The large number of injuries, deaths, and fires caused by consumer use of fireworks around the Fourth of July year in and year out proves the wisdom of our long held position. The most recent report issued by the NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Division shows how serious a problem this is.
In 2004, 9,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in
In 2003, an estimated 2,300 structure or vehicle fires were started by fireworks. These fires resulted in five deaths, 60 injuries, and $58 million dollars in property damage.
Between 1998 and 2002, eight people per year were killed in fires started by fireworks and six people per year were killed directly by fireworks. As in most years, the majority of those injured by fireworks in 2004 were under age 20. The highest injury rates were for children aged five to nine.
In 2004, 85 percent of emergency room fireworks injuries involved fireworks that Federal regulations permit consumers to use.
Even though the use of fireworks by consumers has been identified by a wide range of safety and public health groups that include NFPA, the
In response to requests from fire officials, NFPA has developed a new chapter of NFPA’s pyrotechnics code, NFPA 1124, Code for the Manufacture, Transportation, Storage, and Retail Sale of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles , which provides minimum requirements for retail facilities that sell consumer fireworks. Our development of these requirements reflects the fact that in most parts of the country, retail sales are allowed but in no way shows a weakening resolve on the issue of whether they should be allowed. We believe strongly that fireworks are too inherently dangerous to be used by consumers and that retail sales of fireworks should be banned everywhere.
From time to time, when NFPA and other groups have warned the public about the dangers of fireworks before the Fourth of July, we have been accused of being “unpatriotic.” There is nothing patriotic about the deaths and serious injuries caused by fireworks every year. Anybody who has talked to a person seriously injured by fireworks at a Fourth of July celebration or listened to the physicians who have treated them, knows that there are far better ways for people to show their love of this country.
That is why we are sticking to our position and urge people to attend public displays of fireworks organized by professionals and not use them themselves. That is the only way we can prevent these needless deaths, injuries, and fires.
In this Section:
NFPA 10 and its requirements for portable fire extinguishers.
Recent research and its impact on detection
Power failure leads to fire loss
Fireworks: We are sticking to our position
A trapeze act: Moving standards with the marketplace
Supervision of fire protection systems
Letters to the editor
There’s no time like now
Implementing a research agenda for hydrogen infrastructure safety
Section News is now Section Forum