Safety experts crackling over fireworks safety

Urging the public to stay away from what they say is an extremely dangerous product, national health and fire safety advocates joined District of Columbia fire officials at a press conference Wednesday to denounce the use of consumer fireworks and launch new public-service announcements in advance of the Fourth of July holiday.

Urging the public to stay away from what they say is an extremely dangerous product, national health and fire safety advocates joined District of Columbia fire officials at a press conference Wednesday to denounce the use of consumer fireworks and launch new public-service announcements in advance of the Fourth of July holiday.

DC Fire and EMS Chief Dennis Rubin, speaking at Engine 3, voiced his concern about the upcoming holiday, “Each year our firefighters battle blazes and respond to injuries that don’t need to occur. Fireworks in untrained hands are an accident waiting to happen.” Chief Rubin also expressed his disappointment that a recent proposal before the city council to ban consumer fireworks failed to pass. “Absent their action, the public should act by staying away from consumer fireworks.”

According to a recently released NFPA report, fireworks caused an estimated 1800 total structure fires and 700 vehicle fires reported to fire departments in 2005. These fires resulted in $39 million in direct property damage. The NFPA report said US hospital emergency rooms treated more than 9,000 people for fireworks related injuries in 2006.

“There is simply no safe way to use consumer fireworks,” said James M. Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association, a founding member of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks. “People should leave fireworks to the professionals and celebrate our nation’s birthday by enjoying professional displays put on by trained individuals.”

John Dean, president of the National Association of State Fire Marshals said the Fourth of July is a particularly difficult day for fire service all across the country. “More fires are reported on a typical Fourth of July than on any other day of the year and fireworks account for half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.”

NFPA and the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks unveiled two PSAs they hope will reach the public over the next few weeks and make individuals think before lighting a firework that can have life altering consequences. One of the PSA’s features stories of people who have been directly affected by fireworks accidents including the Shannon’s of North Carolina, who lost their son Michael when a device tipped over while firing and struck him in the head.

The public-service announcements can be viewed on YouTube and at http://www.nfpa.org/fireworks.

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