While fireworks are a traditional part of our Independence Day celebrations, decades of tragic experience show us that the misuse of fireworks can have devastating consequences. Each year, fireworks cause an estimated 25,000 fires, resulting in nearly 9,000 injuries and direct property loss of over $17 million nationwide. The burns caused by the intense heat of fireworks leave lifetime, disfiguring scars. Eye injuries, many leading to permanent vision loss, account for 20 percent of fireworks injuries. Finally, on average, 7 people each year are killed directly by fireworks.
Too often, consumers do not recognize the inherent dangers of fireworks and treat them as toys. Even sparklers (pyrotechnic devices that look harmless but aren’t) cause hundreds of injuries every year. By avoiding illegal and dangerous fireworks and using legal fireworks responsibly, you can help ensure a fun and safer experience for everyone.
Any firework that explodes, emits a flame or sparks higher than 12 feet, or performs as a projectile is specifically prohibited under the City of Fairfax Fire Prevention Code. Permits also are required for the sale of all fireworks, with those permits remaining valid only from June 1 to July 15 of each year. Certain types of fireworks, such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, and roman candles, may be purchased legally in other areas but may not be possessed or used in the City of Fairfax. Bringing unapproved fireworks from other jurisdictions into the City of Fairfax is an irresponsible and illegal act that constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor. Unapproved fireworks may be confiscated and the offending parties fined up to $2,500 and/or sentenced to up to one year in jail.
Fireworks Safety Tips
Please abide by the following safety tips when using legally purchased, approved fireworks:
- Place fireworks on a flat surface, away from any combustible materials and clear of all buildings and vehicles
- Keep bystanders at least 25 feet away from all fireworks
- Do not permit young children to handle or light fireworks; you wouldn’t hand a matchbook or lighter to a child to play with, so why would you give a child a sparkler to hold?
- Light only one firework at a time
- Never throw fireworks
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the home
Unfortunately, it’s not just illegal fireworks that are dangerous. In fact, most fireworks injuries are caused by devices that are legal in the states in which they are used. Sparklers, which can attain a temperature of about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, actually account for the majority of injuries. This year, why not simply enjoy the thrill of pyrotechnics at one of many professional, public displays, where compliance with state-of-the-art fire codes offers a safer way to enjoy the holidays?
For information, check out the City of Fairfax’s Independence Day Celebration Parade and Evening Show page.
For more information about fireworks safety, please contact our Life Safety Officer or call 703.385.7830.