By Fire Chief Chris Martin and Interim Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski
It is that time of year when many people decide to purchase and use fireworks. Before getting started, we believe it is important to understand what the law says and also how to safely use fireworks. Each year, many people are severely injured, even killed by fireworks accidents and much property is damaged as well; so as your Fire Chief and Interim Police Chief, it is our opinion that fireworks only be ignited by trained professionals. That being said, we understand some people will decide to use them anyway, so please be safe and follow the law. The police department will have a dedicated fireworks car patrolling the city in the days leading up to and after the Fourth of July holiday. There will be zero tolerance for those that illegally use fireworks and jeopardize our resident’s safety.
When can you use fireworks? Only the day before, day of and day after one of the ten recognized holidays. (These can be found in the Ordinance). They can only be used between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., on those days. Where can you use fireworks? Fireworks can only be used on private property, with permission of the owner. Fireworks cannot be used within 25 feet of a building, 20 feet of a property line, 500 feet of a gas station, or when winds exceed 10 mph. It is also important to note that fireworks cannot be launched from a public street or sidewalk, which is a common violation. Finally, no one under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance can use fireworks; this is both a safety concern as well as against the law.
If you are going to use fireworks, please follow these suggestions. First off, it is important to read the labels on the fireworks to understand what they are expected to do. These labels should give you safe distances to operate in. Always have a bucket of water or charged hose at the ready when using fireworks. If the firework is designed to leave the ground, it should be supplied with an object that is designed to launch it from. It is important to take steps to make sure the object used to launch the firework from is on flat ground and is properly stabilized so that is will not fall over. Safety glasses are a must for anyone near the launching of the fireworks. This should only be done by adults, keep all children at a safe distance. It is also a good idea to wear long sleeve shirts, pants and good shoes as well as a good pair of gloves. If an object fails to launch or ignite, do not attempt to reignite it. Wait 20 minutes before moving that object and NEVER look down the launch tube. If it has not launched or ignited after 20 minutes, submerse the firework in a bucket of water, taking caution to hold the launch tube away from your body and pointed in a safe direction. Last, but not least, please make sure you clean up after yourself, keeping in mind that spent fireworks can contain hot embers long after they have been used. Never place used fireworks in combustible garbage cans and never store them in or near a structure. Instead, soak all the used fireworks thoroughly when done and store them in metal containers away from your house until garbage day.
SHFD responds to a fire almost every year from improper firework disposal procedures. Notice the fireworks still left on the porch.
Contact the Non-Emergency Fire Department line at (586) 446-2950 or Non-Emergency Police Department Line at (586) 446-2800.