Fire and Rescue News

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

News Release 11-44
Date: June 21, 2011


Spotlighting Holiday Fireworks Safety

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments are joining together to spotlight fireworks safety, Thursday, June 23, 2011, 10 a.m., at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy, 9710 Great Seneca Highway, Rockville, Maryland.

Fire Marshal’s from Virginia, Maryland, and the District will speak on fireworks safety, illegal fireworks, and provide media representatives the opportunity to see first-hand the dangers of fireworks.

According to the National Fire Protection Administration (NFPA), far more fires are reported on July 4 than on any other day, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires. In 2009, fireworks caused an estimated 18,000 reported fires, including 1,300 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 30 civilian injuries, and $38 million in direct property damage.

In 2009, hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 people for fireworks related injuries. Fifty-one percent of the 2009 fireworks injuries were burns, while one-quarter were contusions and lacerations. The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 10-14, with more than twice the risk for the general population. Sparklers and novelties alone accounted for 32 percent of the emergency room firework injuries in 2009.

According to the NFPA, the risk of fire death relative to time used shows fireworks as the highest risk consumer product. The risks with fireworks are not limited to displays, public or private. Risks are also wherever fireworks are manufactured, transported, stored or sold. “Safe and sane” fireworks are neither. Fireworks and sparklers are designed to explode or throw off showers of hot sparks. Temperatures may exceed 1200 degrees; by comparison, glass melts at 900 degrees.

By far, enjoying public displays of fireworks that comply with NFPA standards are the safest way to enjoy the 4th of July, Independence Day celebration.

Fireworks Safety Tips

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend one of the many public displays; however, if you are having a home fireworks display, here are some safety guidelines to follow:
  • Follow the manufacturer directions.
  • Have water available for extinguishment of discarded fireworks or an emergency.
  • Place legally purchased fireworks on a flat surface, clear of combustible materials and clear of all buildings.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep bystanders at least 25 feet away from fireworks.
  • Do not permit young children to handle or light fireworks.
    (Sparklers can reach a temperature of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.)
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.

For more information, call Daniel L. Schmidt or Captain I Randal Bittinger,
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, 703-246-3801 and TTY: 711.
Duty PIO (Weekends/After-hours): 703-877-3702
Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs,
services and activities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request.
4100 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

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