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Firefighters warning Arizonans about the dangers of fireworks

Posted: 7:24 PM, Jun 30, 2017
Updated: 2017-06-30 22:24:23-04

Firefighters are warning Phoenix residents to forgo firing off their own fireworks at home and instead enjoy a professional show at any of the Fourth of July celebrations across the Valley.

Today, the Phoenix Fire Department held a demonstration to show the dangers that fireworks can pose and remind people that just because they are permissible doesn't mean they are safe.

Related: 25 Fourth of July fireworks to watch around the Valley

The demonstrations included examples with illegal and permissible fireworks and the serious injuries fireworks can cause to a person in a matter of seconds. Demonstrations included showing the types of burns a person can get on their hand from a sparkler, as well as another example of just how quickly a sparkler can spark a fire near dry brush.

Demonstrations also showed the damage an illegal firework can cause to a hand if not properly handled. A firework was also placed in a watermelon to show the power and force these pyrotechnics have.

You may have seen fireworks stands popping up across the Valley in preparation for the holiday next week. 

Fireworks are legally allowed to be sold in the state up until July 6. After that, they are illegal until New Years. 

The use of permissible fireworks is allowed between June 24 - July 6 and Dec. 24 - Jan. 3.

Fireworks that are legal to buy in the state are: ground sparklers, sparklers, fountains, ground spinners, wheels, illuminating torches, flitter sparklers; firefighters say basically anything that stays on the ground.

"Even though there are permissible fireworks out there that doesn't mean that they're not dangerous. They can still burn you and catch anything nearby on fire," said Brian Scholl, fire inspector with the Phoenix Fire Department.

Illegal fireworks include Roman candles, firecrackers, bottle rockets, aerial shells, sky rockets.  Firefighters explained that a good rule of thumb is if it goes up in the air and it explodes it's illegal and you should not have it.

"Anything that burns, that pops that catches on fire anything that explodes causes injury," said Dr. Kevin Fosters, a surgeon with the Arizona Burn Center.

Buying illegal fireworks in the state of Arizona is a Class 1 Misdemeanor and you can face a $1,000 fine.

Officials say that if you are going to shoot off fireworks for the holiday they say do it in a safe area and keep kids far away.  They suggest only adults use fireworks and to make sure you're in an open area away from homes, dry brush, and people.  Make sure to have a bucket or hose at the ready in the event something goes wrong.  Keep everyone on one side of the fireworks show.  Light each firework one at a time.

If you have a firework that is a dud officials recommend you wait 20 minutes before handling it then place it in a bucket of water.

Fire officials have gone to every fireworks tent in the city and made sure they are complying with state standards and laws.  Each person who desires to sell fireworks must first receive a permit from the fire department.  Anything fire officials find questionable at fireworks tents are removed by vendors at the request of officials.

According to the National Safety Council citing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2016 there were 4 deaths and over 11,100 injuries from fireworks.  Over half of those injuries were for burns.  The most common injuries occur on the hands followed by eyes, face and head.

According to a media information packet provided at the event by the Phoenix Fire Department, on average, 240 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the months surrounding the Fourth of July holiday.

The National Fire Protection Agency states children under the age of 15 accounts for 2/3 of all injuries and most of their injuries are from handling Sparklers, which are permissible in the state of Arizona. Sparklers account for 31 percent of all fireworks injuries.

The NFPA also reports that 2/5 fires in the U.S. on the 4th of July are fireworks caused.  Combined these fires cause 18,500 fires including 300 vehicle fires, 1,300 structure fires, and 16,900 other fires.  Last year, fire officials say there were no fireworks-related fires in the city that they were aware of, however, two years ago a home did catch on fire after someone lit a firework and threw it onto the roof.

Combined the NFPA states these fires cause close to $43 million dollars in property damage.

If you need to get rid of illegal fireworks contact the fire department.  They will handle them and have the police bomb squad dispose of them properly.  If you see someone lighting off illegal fireworks, contact police.

Firefighters encourage you to attend one of the many fireworks shows going on in your city and leave the fireworks to the professionals.