State Fire Marshal warns of fireworks danger

Staff Writer
Chillicothe Times-Bulletin

As communities across Illinois are preparing for Fourth of July holiday celebrations, the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is reminding residents that  the best way to have a safe holiday weekend is to let trained professionals handle fireworks. The public is urged to attend public firework displays and avoid using consumer fireworks.

“Every year around the Fourth of July, we see people, sometimes small children, suffer terrible injuries due to fireworks,” said Larry Matkaitis, State Fire  Marshal. “There is no such thing as a safe firework. It’s not worth taking the risk of using illegal or  consumer fireworks that could ruin the life of you  and your loved ones.”

 According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2011 fireworks caused  9,600 injuries  treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.  Sparklers,  fountains and novelty fireworks alone accounted for  34 percent of those injuries.  During the same year, fire departments responded to 17,800 fires caused by  fireworks.

 In Illinois last year, 76 emergency incidents were  linked to the use of fireworks.  Residents are  reminded that under the Illinois Fireworks Act (425ILCS 35/1), it is illegal to possess, purchase or use consumer fireworks without a consumer display  permit obtained from local authorities.  Since 2013,  sky lanterns were also included in the list of   illegal fireworks in Illinois.  Individuals caught with controlled consumer fireworks without the  necessary display permit could be subject to arrest.

 According to NFPA, most of the injuries involving fireworks are children between 5 and 14 years old. Consumer fireworks also carry a high risk of accidents and serious injuries.  Firecrackers and sparklers, which are considered to be harmless, can burn at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fireworks use can endanger users, bystanders, and surrounding properties and structures.