Ahead of Fourth of July festivities, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is reminding residents of the Volunteer State about the dangers associated with consumer fireworks. The SFMO urges Tennesseans to leave the fireworks to the experts this Independence Day.
“Watching a fireworks display is a fun Fourth of July tradition for many Tennesseans,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Interim Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Carter Lawrence. “To ensure you and your family have a fun and safe Independence Day, we encourage consumers to join other community members in attending public fireworks displays that are put on by licensed professionals.”
Shooting fireworks at home brings risks to lives, health, and property. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks each Fourth of July holiday. According to Tennessee fire data, fireworks caused 419 unintended fires that resulted in over $1 million in property damage from 2014-2018. Additionally, one civilian injury and three firefighters were injured in fireworks-related accidents during the same time period.
If you choose to shoot fireworks yourself, familiarize yourself with local fireworks laws first. Several counties and cities in the Volunteer State have ordinances and restrictions related to fireworks usage. Before purchasing or detonating fireworks, the SFMO urges residents to check with their local police or fire department to determine local laws about fireworks.
In addition to local laws, Tennessee has several state laws pertaining to fireworks:
· A 2007 Tennessee law prevents children under 16 from purchasing fireworks. Those who are 16 or 17 must present a photo ID to purchase them.
· State legislation passed in 2011 reclassified sky lanterns as special fireworks exclusively for use by individuals with a professional license. The general public cannot purchase or use sky lanterns. If a sky lantern is found in the possession of someone who does not have a professional license issued by the SFMO, the device can be confiscated and destroyed.
· A law passed in 2015 prohibits flying a drone (unmanned aircraft) above an outdoor ticketed event with more than 100 people, or in the vicinity of a fireworks display site, without the permission of the event operator.
If consumer fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:
· Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks.
· Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
· Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
· Wear eye protection.
· Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
· Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals.
· Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials.
· Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
· Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
· Sparklers are not toys and cause hundreds of injuries every year. Sparklers burn hot, can reach temperatures as high as 1,200° F, and stay hot long after they’ve burned out. You wouldn’t hand a matchbook or lighter to a child to wave or play with – so, don’t give a child a sparkler.
For more fire safety information, visit tn.gov/fire.