Fire Department Urges Safety First for 4th of July

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The sign outside the Park Forest Fire Station warns, "Skin burns at 150 degrees, a sparkler burns at 1800 degrees. Is it worth the risk?"

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— In 2005, the U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 10,800 people for fireworks related injuries, according to data from the National Fire Protection Agency.

While Illinois state law prohibits fireworks such as hand held fire works, bottle rockets and roman candles, approved fire works such as sparklers can be hazardous. Lt. Mike Wheeler, fire prevention office for the village of Park Forest said fireworks such as sparklers have been known to cause third degree burns.

“We don’t allow children to use matches, so they shouldn’t be using fire works which can burn four times hotter,” Wheeler said. “I don’t recommend children use any fire works.”

Wheeler said there have been multiple cases of injuries of fireworks to children, some lower than 4 years old, including an 11 month old who was injured by a sparkler.

In Illinois, consumer fire works displays are illegal unless approved by the fire department, which requires training to use. Wheeler said while using fire works, it is recommended to keep a bucket of water or sand handy.

In 2005, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 10,800 people for firework related injuries, 54 percent were burns, while 29 percent were contusions and lacerations. Nearly half of the people injured were under the age of 15, with the risk of fire works nearly three times as high for children ages 10 – 14 as for the general population. Sparklers, fountains, and novelties alone accounted for 26 percent of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2005, according to a report from the NFPA.

In 2004, fire works caused an estimated 1,500 total structure fires and 600 vehicle fires reported to fire departments. These 2,200 fires resulted in an estimated 20 civilian injuries and $21 million in direct property damage, according to the report.

The Illinois Fireworks Use Act stipulates that the State Fire Marshal must keep a list of approved fireworks. The following novelty fireworks are expressly excluded from the definition of Consumer Fireworks:

  • snake or glow worm pellets;
  • smoke devices;
  • trick noisemakers known as "party poppers", "booby traps", "snappers", "trick matches", "cigarette loads", and "auto burglar alarms";
  • sparklers;
  • toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns, or other devices in which paper or plastic caps containing twenty-five hundredths grains or less of explosive compound are used, provided they are so constructed that the hand cannot come in contact with the cap when in place for the explosion; and
  • toy pistol paper or plastic caps that contain less than twenty hundredths grains of explosive mixture.

The Act says, "the sale and use of these novelty fireworks are permitted at all times," but gives municipalities, "the authority to enact an ordinance prohibiting the sale and use of sparklers on public property."

Approved Consumer Fireworks are strictly controlled. According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal:

Consumer Fireworks Retailers/Distributors registered with OSFM may sell approved Consumer Fireworks to consumers who have and display a valid Fireworks Permit, issued by the local county or municipality to that consumer. (Emphasis added)

Approved consumer fireworks include cones including showers of sparks, fountains and repeaters, with a single tube containing no more than 75 grams total of pyrotechnic, cones containing no more than 50 grams of pyrotechnic, and multiple tubes containing no more than 200 grams of pyrotechnic, according to Fireworks Use Act.

Also allowed are mines, comets, tubes, shells, fancy florals and parachutes, which create a low-level aerial effect which is propelled into the air by a lift charge. These items contain a maximum of 40 grams of chemical composition and no more than 20 grams of lift charge, according to the Fireworks Use act.

The following are strictly forbidden:

  • Hand held fireworks
  • Bottle rockets
  • Firecrackers of any size or type
  • Sky rockets
  • Roman candles
  • Chasers
  • Buzz bombs
  • Ground items other than those identified as Approved Consumer Fireworks
  • Helicopters
  • Missiles
  • Pin wheels or any other twirling device whether on the ground or mounted above the ground
  • Planes

Sources: http://www.nfpa.org/, http://www.state.il.us/osfm/