State fire marshal and national fire officials urge the public to “Be Smart! Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals”

Video news release offers media soundbites and “B-roll” for fireworks safety

June 27, 2013 – 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. “Massachusetts was an early adopter of a model law that made it illegal to use consumer fireworks. By remaining true to that law through the years, thousands of fires and injuries have been avoided in the state.”

Fireworks used to make larger devices
“Massachusetts law enforcement and fire officials have long been concerned about people buying fireworks to create larger and more dangerous devices,” said State Fire Marshal Coan. “The Marathon bombers caused such harm and destruction with fireworks believed to have purchased legally in our neighboring state of New Hampshire,” he added.

Bomb making recipes only a click away
Not all bomb makers are terrorists. Coan said, “Dangerous bomb making recipes are only a click away on the internet.” Many young people without the ability to discern the danger or think through the consequences have been injured taking small firecrackers and developing significantly larger devices. In Swampscott in 2008, a youth shook an entire neighborhood repeatedly with the bombs he was making repackaging firecrackers bought at a local store. He lost several fingers in the explosion.

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 1800 degrees F. No one would hand a lit match to a child, which burns at about 500 degrees F.

12 people injured in Pelham, N.H. house fire
Many people think they can safely use dangerous fireworks just because they personally haven’t been injured yet. This point was brought home last July 3 when a dozen people were injured at the Pelham, N.H. home of a family known for their annual private show. A “stray” firework ignited the unused supply of fireworks stored on the home’s back deck resulting in an explosion and fire. Four people, a 7-month old girl, a 3-year old boy, a 31-year old woman and a 58-year old man, were treated at Massachusetts hospitals for burn injuries and another eight people were treated in New Hampshire for injuries. Sadly, people often think “it won’t happen to me” but the thousands of fireworks injuries that occur each year prove that it very well could. Video of this family telling their story can be found at www.nfpa.org/fireworks.

Horrors of illegal shows
“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.

CPSC says thousands of fireworks injuries treated at emergency rooms annually

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 for their children who if they see adults use them without injury will believe they can too.

Massachusetts incidents 
Last year in Massachusetts, the illegal use of fireworks caused several terrible incidents despite our best efforts to educate the public.
  • On July 4, 2012, a 30-year old man was at Lake Lashaway in North Brookfield when a homemade firework, a black powder rocket launcher, exploded causing injuries to his face arms and upper torso. The victim, his 54-year old father and adult brother were all transported to hospitals for treatment.
  • On July 5, 2012, at 2:05 a.m., the Chatham Fire Department was dispatched for an EMS call at the town beach. A 31-year old man was using a mortar to light off some fireworks when it exploded. The victim received traumatic injuries to his chest and right hand. He was med-flighted to a Boston hospital for treatment.
  • On July 4, 2012, a 52-year old man received burns to his groin and abdomen in Hanover. He also suffered trauma to his right hand. The victim was holding a ‘torpedo’ firework between his legs when it exploded. He was first taken to a local and then med-flighted to a Boston Hospital for follow-up treatment.
  • On July 4, 2012, the Sandwich Fire Department responded to an EMS call for a woman who was struck in the hand and head with an errant firework.
  • On July 4, 2012, at 12:05 a.m., the Brockton Fire Department was called to a fire in a three-unit apartment building. The fire was started on the roof by fireworks being used by a tenant. Detectors were present and operated and no one was injured. Damages were estimated to be $35,000
  • On July 3, 2012, the Lawrence Fire Department responded to two fires started by fireworks. One was in an apartment building and the second was a brush fire.
  • On June 30, 2012, at 9:55 p.m., the Ashby Fire Department was dispatched to a fire in a single-family home. Someone was shooting off fireworks near the home and they ignited the roof. No one was injured at this fire. Detectors were not present and the building did not have any sprinklers. Damages from this fire were estimated to be $14,000.

Fire departments ensuring safe public displays
Coan said, “Massachusetts fire departments and the code compliance officers in the Department of Fire Services work hard to ensure the public displays are safe. No one is doing that at illegal shows where there is no licensed, trained shooter, no one is setting safe distances for the audience, no fire engine or EMT standing by, no inspection of the firing mechanisms.” 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.”

Press availability
State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan will be available for media interview July 1, 2, and 3, 2013. Contact Jennifer Mieth at +1 978 567-3381 to schedule an interview.

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.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at 
www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

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Contacts:
Jennifer Mieth, DFS +1 978 567-3189
Lorraine Carli, NFPA +1 617 984-7275

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