Fire chief cautions supervision with fireworks


TROY — With the Fourth of July around the corner, fireworks are becoming more prevalent in area communities, and the Troy Fire Department recommends citizens supervise firework use where children are involved.

“Some of the most common injuries seen in the emergency room from fireworks involve extremities such as fingers, hands, or legs. For small children, sparklers alone account for more than 25 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, based on data from the National Fire Protection Association. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries,” Troy Fire Chief Matthew Simmons said.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause an estimated 19,500 reported fires in the U.S. each year, and hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks-related injuries in 2017. Each year, an average of two out of five fires started by fireworks are reported on Independence Day.

“We have been very fortunate in Troy to not have any serious injuries or incidents in several years due to fireworks. We try very hard to educate the community with an emphasis on school-aged children about the dangers and safety of fireworks,” Simmons said.

Additionally, Simmons recommends the following safety tips when using fireworks recommend from the Center Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

• Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.

• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishaps.

• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Senate Bill 113, which has passed the Ohio General Assembly and now awaits Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature to be signed into law, would allow consumer-grade fireworks to be set off on certain days in the state of Ohio. Currently, consumer-grade fireworks can be purchased in-state, but the buyer needs to sign an agreement stating that the fireworks will be discharged out of state.

Simmons, who is a member of the Ohio Fire Chief’s Association, was part of a committee that researched several states that have successfully adopted similar legislation, which assisted best practices, as well as ensured safety education was part of the Bill. He said that if the legislation is signed into law, the Troy Fire Department will continue community safety education and prevention in regard to consumer-grade fireworks.

“Part of the Bill will require portions of the revenues to be used for fire department educational efforts. Even if this legislation passes, each community can determine at what level they implement what type of fireworks will be allowed, as well as implementing time frames when they are allowed. For example, a community could decide that they will allow fireworks to be used two days before and after the Fourth of July, and then illegal during other times,” Simmons said.

Simmons said that he would still recommend leaving larger fireworks to the professionals and monitoring children when using smaller, legal fireworks. He wishes everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July.

“Fireworks have been a staple of celebration for our country for hundreds of years. It is something special to be able to celebrate certain holidays like the Fourth of July where our community can unite to celebrate this great country and our independence. Many communities like Troy understand this and plan for professionals and allocate thousands of dollars to make an amazing display that the whole community can enjoy,” Simmons said.

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