National health and safety advocates warn against consumer fireworks

Published on July 1, 2009
U.S. Olympic hopeful shares story of fireworks injury

July 1, 2009 – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and its Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks hosted a press conference today with the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office to warn against the use of consumer fireworks. The event featured Jonathan Jackson, a victim of a childhood fireworks injury that left him blind in one eye.


NFPA President Jim Shannon underscored the dangers of consumer fireworks "It's unacceptable thousands ... [are ]injured by a product that's legal in most states."
 Listen to Jim Shannon's entire address

U.S. Olympic hopeful Jonathan Jackson describes the fireworks incident which left him blind in one eye.
 Jonathan Jackson describes the incident that claimed his right eye

Massachusetts State Fire marshall Steven D. Coan displays a "cake" of aerial firework. "Once lit, there is no way of stopping the device.  Injuries typically happen when people try to relight the device if it looks like its gone out."

A demonstration showing how a sparkler, which reaches temperatures as high as 1200 degrees, can easily ignite clothes.

The aftermath of the sparkler test.

A similar mannequin exposed to the explosive force of an M80.

"The instant that bottle rocket exploded in my face, my life changed forever, and I am still discovering what that means as I encounter and overcome challenges each day,” said Jonathan Jackson, U.S. Olympic hopeful and victim of a childhood fireworks injury. “When you use consumer fireworks, you put yourself and others at risk; it’s not worth it.” Jackson, from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, is a recent graduate of Texas Christian University where he was a national track and field standout in the men’s triple jump event. Many in the sport expected that he would qualify for the last Olympics, but an injury prevented him from competing. Jackson hopes to earn a spot representing the U.S. in the 2012 games.

“Each year, nearly 10,000 people are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries and many of these injuries go hand-in-hand with Fourth of July celebrations,” said James M. Shannon, president of NFPA.  “A visit to the emergency room is no way to celebrate the birth of our country and it is unacceptable that thousands of people are being injured by a product that is legal in most states.  We suggest attending public fireworks displays put on by trained professionals.”

According to a newly-released NFPA report, in 2006 fireworks caused an estimated 32,600 reported fires, including 1,700 total structure fires, 600 vehicle fires, and 30,300 outdoor and other fires.

On Independence Day in a typical year, more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.

NFPA is the coordinator and co-founder of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, a national group of health and safety organizations that have joined together to take a stand against the use of consumer fireworks.

Massachusetts is one of only five states that bans all consumer fireworks. The others are Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

Video PSAs, audio interviews, statistics, safety tips and materials are available at

About the Alliance
NFPA along with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), founded the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks to warn individuals about the dangers of consumer fireworks. Other members include American Academy of Family PhysiciansAmerican Academy of OphthalmologyAmerican Society for Surgery of the HandAmerican Society of Plastic SurgeonsAmerican Society for Reconstructive MicrosurgeryCenter for Injury Research & PolicyEmergency Nurses AssociationFire Department Safety Officers AssociationInternational Association of Arson InvestigatorsInternational Association of Fire ChiefsInternational Association of Fire FightersInternational Fire Marshals AssociationMetropolitan Fire ChiefsNational Association of Pediatric Nurse PractitionersNational Association of School NursesNational Association of State Fire Marshals,and Prevent Blindness America.

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization 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. Visit NFPA’s Web site at

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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275