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Coffee Break Bulletin

Educating the Public About Safe Handling of Fireworks

Posted: June 3, 2019 (updated June 26, 2020)

Guidance for the fire service on managing fireworks and safety messages to share with the public.

Every year, about 10,000 people are treated for injuries in hospital emergency departments due to the mishandling of live, misfired and waste consumer fireworks1. In addition, fires resulting from fireworks cause over $100 million in direct property damage2. Many U.S. cities are seeing a surge in consumer fireworks usage by the public in 2020.

Consumer fireworks are defined as any small firework device designed to produce visible effects by combustion and which must comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

16 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Ch. II (1–1–02 Edition): PART 1507—FIREWORKS DEVICES
The fire service must take a proactive stand to educate the public about the safe transportation, storage, use and proper disposal of these explosive devices.

Guidance on managing fireworks

Generally, the importation, distribution and storage of fireworks defined as consumer fireworks are exempted from the provisions of the federal explosives laws. However, because they contain pyrotechnic compositions classed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as explosive materials, the manufacture of consumer fireworks requires a manufacturer’s license. In addition, pyrotechnic compositions used in the manufacture of consumer fireworks must be stored in accordance with regulations in 27 CFR Subpart K – Storage.

In July 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency issued the memorandum Safe Handling, Storage and Treatment of Waste Fireworks. This memorandum provides information regarding the safe and legal handling, storage and treatment of waste fireworks, and responds to recommendations from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

Messages to share with the public

  • The best way to stay safe from fireworks is to not use them. Instead, attend a public fireworks display put on by professionals.
  • Fireworks are dangerous to people and pets. Using them puts your property at risk.
  • Hand-held sparklers burn at 1,200 F. Remember, wood ignites at 356 F and burns at 575 F.

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