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KFD: Leave fireworks to the pros

July 3rd, 2014 6:40 am by Matthew Lane

KFD: Leave fireworks to the pros

Times-News file photo.

KINGSPORT — Leave fireworks to the professionals.

That's the message from the Kingsport Fire Department in the lead up to the Independence Day holiday.

Shooting fireworks on Independence Day has been a tradition since this nation started, and people all across the county like to join in with the explosive revelry.

Barry Brickey, the public education officer for the KFD, said the safest way for people to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.

Brickey added that every July 4, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks and despite the dangers, few people understand the associated risks, such as burns, fires and even death.

The Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks — a group of health and safety organizations — coordinated by the National Fire Protection Association, urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and never allow young children to play or ignite fireworks.

The organization recommends people make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them, never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse, and never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.

Other safety measures when using fireworks are to never point or throw fireworks at another person, do keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap, and never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.

According to Brickey, in 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure
fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage.

In 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks-related injuries; 55 percent of 2012 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 31 percent were to the head.

The risk of fireworks injury was highest for young people ages 15 to 24, followed by children younger than 10.

On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires, Brickey said.

Fireworks are illegal in the city of Kingsport with ordinances specifically prohibiting the manufacture, use, discharge, possession or sale of fireworks within the city limits. Any person found guilty of violating this ordinance shall be fined up to $50 for each offense.

The only exception would be a public fireworks display authorized by permit, such as for Independence Day, Fun Fest or a Kingsport Mets ball game.

In Sullivan County, fireworks can be used between the hours of 2 and 10 p.m., on July 4. Fireworks must be at least 100 feet away from residences unless permission is given by the homeowner. Violators could be fined up to $500.

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