Sheehan: Leave The Fireworks To The Professionals
The following information was submitted by Police Chief Timothy Sheehan, relative to fireworks and the Fourth of July.
Enjoy supervised professional fireworks displays
Local fire departments supervise fireworks displays all over the Massachusetts. Unfortunately, children and adults continue to set off illegal fireworks that start fires and cause serious injuries to themselves and others.
Fireworks can be deadly
A 45-year old Gloucester woman died in a December 22, 2003 house fire when someone threw fireworks and ignited a Christmas tree in the living room. Three other people were injured. On May 20,1997, a 26-year old man from Watertown was killed while he was lighting fireworks in a hallway. A 27-year old Framingham man was killed on July 4, 1993, when backyard fireworks exploded in his face. On July 4, 1992, fireworks fatally injured a 30-year old man on a Fairhaven beach.
All fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts
The possession and use of all fireworks by private citizens is illegal in Massachusetts. This
includes Class C fireworks which are sometimes falsely called “safe and sane fireworks.” Class C fireworks include sparklers, party poppers, snappers, firecrackers, spinners, cherry bombs and more. Sparklers burn at 1800oF.
It is illegal to transport fireworks into Massachusetts, even if they were purchased legally elsewhere. Illegal fireworks can be confiscated on the spot.
Do not purchase fireworks through mail-order or online catalogs
The distribution of mail-order catalogs that clearly state that fireworks are illegal in some jurisdictions cannot be prohibited. State and local police regularly confiscate illegal shipments of fireworks into Massachusetts. Many unhappy consumers have lost both their money and the fireworks trying to circumvent the law.
Set a good example for children
Children imitate adults. If you use fireworks, children will copy you, not realizing how very dangerous fireworks are. Sixty percent of fireworks-related burn injuries reported by hospitals to the Office of the State Fire Marshal in 2013 were to children under age 18. Over one-quarter (27%) of the victims were children under age 10.
Fires caused by fireworks
In the past decade (2004-2013) there have been 802 major fire and explosion incidents involving illegal fireworks reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS). The incidents caused 14 civilian injuries, two fire service injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of $2 million, which is high considering most fireworks fires are outdoor brush fires.
On August 4, 2013 the Chicopee Fire Department responded to a fireworks explosion that severely injured a resident’s hand and also injured his young son. The State Police Bomb Squad was called to dispose of the illegal commercial grade fireworks.
On July 5, 2013, the Lowell Fire Department responded to a fire in an eight-unit apartment building. Fireworks set off inside a trash can on a porch started the fire.
On July 7, 2013, the Plymouth Fire Department was dispatched to a fire in a boat house. Someone ignited fireworks near storage supplies that started the fire. Damages were estimated at $4,000.
On January 9, 2013, Belmont firefighters extinguished two fires in one car; one in the passenger seat and one in the trunk. Smoldering fireworks caused the fires. Damage to the vehicle was estimated at $5,000.
On July 4, 2013, the Worcester Fire Department responded to a fire in a three-unit apartment building. Fireworks ignited the roof. One firefighter was injured at this fire. Damages were estimated at $12,000.
On March 20, 2014 the Abington Fire Department responded to a fireworks explosion in an apartment complex. A youth’s hand was amputated and a 31-year old man was injured when consumer grade fireworks exploded inside his apartment.
Burns caused by fireworks
In the past decade (2004-2013), 49 people were treated at Massachusetts emergency rooms for severe burn injuries from fireworks (burns covering 5% of more of the body) according to the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS). Seventy-two percent of the victims were children and youths under age 25. These victims are scarred for life.
On March 18, 2013, a 19-year old Dartmouth man severely burned his hand when fireworks exploded inside his home.
On September 20, 2013, a 38-year old Boston man received severe chemical burns to approximately 30% of his body while experimenting at home with chemicals and fireworks that exploded.
On August 10, 2013, a 33-year old Beverly man was holding a handful of sparklers. While trying to light one sparkler, he
inadvertently ignited them all and burned his hands.
On June 5, 2013, an 8-year old girl sat on a sparkler that ignited her dress. She received burns to 7% of her body.