Chief urges caution when handling fireworks

Published 2:23 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013

For some, the Fourth of July wouldn’t be complete without filling the sky with a dazzling fireworks display.

Americans bought more than 212 million pounds of fireworks in 2011, compared with 184 million pounds in 2010, the American Pyrotechnics Association says.

But Greenville Fire Department Chief Chad Phillips urged citizens to use caution when dealing with fireworks.

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“The first thing to remember is that it’s illegal to discharge fireworks inside the city limits unless you have approval from the city and the fire marshal,” Phillips said.

Phillips said if a person does plan to shoot fireworks this Fourth of July, he or she should make safety a top priority.

“Fireworks can be dangerous,” he said. “Even though they are small, they are explosive devices and can cause serious bodily harm if they are not handled properly.”

In 2012, there were more than 18,700 injuries caused by fireworks, including more than 7,300 emergency department visits, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

One of the most common causes of injury is so-called “duds,” or fireworks that do not ignite properly. When a firework fails to launch, do not attempt to re-light the firework. Instead, Soak it in water and throw them away.

Phillips said another concern raised by fireworks is the inherent risk of fire.

“With the weather we’ve had recently the risk isn’t quite as high, but if fireworks were shot toward a structure or into dry vegetation, that could start fire,” he said. “That’s something everyone needs to think about before firing off any fireworks.”

Phillips encouraged everyone to leave the fireworks shows to the pros and attend Thursday night’s Celebrate America program that is sponsored by the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Greenville.

Pyrotecnico, a New Castle, Penn., based company, will be responsible for creating the fireworks show, which will begin at 9 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.

“I understand it’s going to be a really good show, and I’d encourage everyone to go out and take in the fireworks show there at the stadium,” Phillips said.

Some hints officials suggest to help avoid a disaster on July 4 include:

Follow all safety precautions issued with the fireworks.

Never use fireworks while drinking alcoholic beverages. The slowness of response and impaired judgment will cause injuries.

Have an adult supervise the use of all fireworks.

Have a fire extinguisher or bucket of water at hand to extinguish an incipient fire.

Have a safe landing zone for aerial fireworks. Never ignite aerial fireworks where overhead obstructions (trees, eaves, wires, etc.) may interfere with trajectory into open air space. Consideration must also be given to wind direction and the ignitability of anything in the landing zone. And be sure to remove all flammable and combustible materials in the area.

Never use fireworks inside or in a vehicle or ignite aerial fireworks near an opening to a building. An open door or window could allow aerial fireworks to fly into a structure and cause a fire. Also don’t put fireworks in any container to ignite.

Never take fireworks apart or mix anything with their contents or make fireworks at home. The making of an explosive device is a felony, punishable by imprisonment or fine.