Fire Officials Urge Public to Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

47% of reported fireworks injuries are to kids under 18
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, interviewing on "Lower Cape Today" with Cape Cod Today and Lower Cape TV (LCTV)

STOW –  “Last year, several people lost fingers and suffered serious burns lighting off illegal fireworks in Massachusetts,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “Have a fun but safe Fourth of July and leave the fireworks to the professionals,” he added.

4th of July No Holiday for Firefighters

Whitman Fire Chief Timothy J. Grenno, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts, said, “The Fourth of July holiday is a busy time for firefighters. We are supervising the professional displays so that they are conducted properly and safely for the viewing public; we’re busy responding to all types of fires and medical emergencies. In fact, the week of July 4 is one of the busiest times of the year for fires.”

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said, “This year, set a good example for your children. Just as children know where you keep the matches and lighters, they know where you stash your illegal fireworks.” He added, “Children imitate adults. If you use fireworks, children will copy you, not realizing how very dangerous fireworks are.” Forty-seven percent of fireworks-related burn injuries reported by hospitals to the Office of the State Fire Marshal in the last 10 years (2008-2017) were to children under age 18. A fifth of the victims, (20%), were children between the ages of five and nine, eleven percent (11%) were under five years old, and the youngest child injured was just six months of age.

  • On July 1, 2017 at around 3:00 p.m., a firework exploded in the hands of a teenager in Mattapan as he was driving.
  • On July 3, 2016, an 8-year old Lawrence boy received burns to his chest. A firework hit him in the chest while he was watching illegal fireworks being set off at a neighbor’s house.
  • On July 4, 2016, a 4-year old Lawrence boy received burns to his forehead and chin when an illegal firework hit him in the face.
  • On the night of July 9, 2016, the Boston Police Department responded to a Dorchester apartment when a 10-year old boy lost four fingers due to illegal fireworks.
  • On July 15, 2017 at 7:33 p.m. a fire was started when a child attempted to ignite some fireworks. The father tried to extinguish the fire but the Nahant Fire Department had to be called. The damages from this event were said to be around $1,000.

Over 780 Major Fires & Explosions from Fireworks

In the past decade (2008-2017) there have been 784 major fire and explosion incidents involving illegal fireworks reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS). These incidents caused 10 civilian injuries, four fire service injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of $1.9 million. This is quite a substantial amount since most fireworks related fires are outside brush fires and do not usually have high loss figures, but can tax firefighters and tie up firefighting resources for an extensive amount of time.

  • On July 9, 2017 at 8:34 p.m., a fire started on the roof of “Brennan’s Smoke Shop” due to the use of illegal fireworks. The New Bedford Fire Department responded and the damages from the incident were said to be around $25,000.
  • On July 10, 2017 at 12:28 a.m. fireworks ignited a sofa on the porch of a Boston 2-family home. The fire spread to the neighboring home, resulting in $5,000 dollars of damage to each building.
  • On December 12, 2017 at 1:31 p.m., EMS and the fire department responded to a call about a Quincy man who had lost his hand after a firework (M-80) exploded while he was holding it.

A majority of firework-related fires and injuries occurred during the week of the Fourth of July holiday.

  • On June 3, 2017 a 37-year old man from Plymouth experienced partial amputations to some of the fingers on his right hand along with injuries to his left hand after a shell exploded in his hands. He also had burns on his chest from the fireworks. He had to be Med-flighted from his local hospital to a Boston hospital for treatment.
  • On July 3, 2017 at 11:15 p.m., a fire started in a North Attleboro home. The owner of the home had set off around $1,500 worth of fireworks earlier that day and had put some of the shells from these fireworks in his recycling bin. Hours later, the shells ignited and started a fire, with the wall of the home catching fire along with the bin. Damages resulting from this incident were around $1,000.
  • On July 4, 2017 at 10:15 p.m. a consumer grade firework went off in the hand of a woman who was at a playground near Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield watching a sponsored fireworks show.
  • On July 4, 2017 at 9:45 p.m. in Quincy, a 32-year old man was severely injured by fireworks and potentially lost some of his fingers after a firework he was holding exploded.
  • On July 4 2017, at 9:08 p.m. the drapes in a second floor window of an apartment in Hull caught fire from fireworks. The estimated damage amounted to $2,000.
  • On July 5, 2017, at 4:09 p.m. fireworks in the garage of a home in East Longmeadow ignited and a fire began. Estimated damage costs from this incident were $200,000.

All Fireworks Are Illegal in Massachusetts

The possession and use of all fireworks by private citizens is illegal in Massachusetts. This includes Class C fireworks which are sometimes falsely called “safe and sane” fireworks. Class C fireworks include sparklers, party poppers, snappers, firecrackers, spinners, cherry bombs and more. Sparklers burn at 1800ºF. It is illegal to transport fireworks into Massachusetts, even if they were purchased legally elsewhere. Illegal fireworks can be confiscated on the spot.

  • On May 11, 2018, the State Police Bomb Squad recovered a box truckload of illegal fireworks from a Rockland mobile home.
  • On May 31, 2018, 1500 lbs. of commercial fireworks were confiscated from a vacant bank-owned home in Westfield. The investigation lead to confiscation of an additional cache of illegal fireworks in a home where children reside.

For more information on the dangers of fireworks, go to the Department of Fire Services webpage Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals.


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