Fourth of July festivities are approaching, make sure you know the rules in Great Falls

The basic rule of thumb this holiday weekend is, once again, don’t be stupid.

Great Falls Fire Rescue wants to remind those setting off fireworks over the holiday to take the necessary steps and precautions to keep themselves and others safe. Always be aware of the risks of accidents, personal injury and fires associated with the use of fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Committee 2015 report, there were 11 fireworks related deaths. Nine of those were related to reloadable aerial devices and two were associated with homemade devices. One victim died in a house fire caused by making homemade fireworks and the other 10 died from direct impact of fireworks.

Fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2015. About 67 percent of those occurred between June 19-July 19, 2015.

2015 Fireworks Annual Report

“There is no question about it; the data shows that incorrectly used fireworks can cause injury. I personally want the families in our community to be safe, while enjoying the holiday. Know the rules, pay attention and stay safe,” said Fire Marshal Dirk Johnson.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause an average of nearly 20,000 reported fires annually. Two out of every five fires reported on the 4th of July are started by fireworks. The most common fireworks to cause injury are the sparkler and firecrackers. In 2015, sparklers caused 24 percent and firecrackers caused 16 percent of all fireworks injuries.

Great Falls Fire Rescue reminds residents of these safety tips:

  • Read Directions
  • Discharge Outdoors: Always use fireworks outside in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles
  • Keep Fireworks away from Others: Never point or throw fireworks at another person or place any part of your body directly over a firework when lighting the fuse
  • One at a Time: Light fireworks one at a time, then move back to a safe distance quickly
  • Have Water Handy: Have a bucket of water or a water hose nearby to prevent a possible fire. Always remember to douse discharged fireworks with water once they have completely burned before throwing the fireworks away to prevent a trash fire
  • Adult Supervision: A responsible adult should always closely supervise all fireworks activities. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Clean it Up: Always clean up used fireworks when finished (make sure they are doused with water)
  • Prevent Injury: Fireworks should never be carried in a pocket or be shot off in metal or glass containers. Fireworks should be used on a solid, flat level surface. Never use altered fireworks. Not only are they dangerous, they can also be illegal
  • Sparklers: They can burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers.
  • It Didn’t Light: If a firework does not work, leave it alone. Do not try to relight it. Pour water on it
  • Buying Fireworks: Purchase fireworks only from reliable outlets. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper or packaging. This is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.

If you’re going to use fireworks in the city limits, be sure to follow the rules. The city’s fireworks ordinance will be enforced by police and firefighters.

Primary rules and regulations include:

  • The selling and discharging of fireworks within the city limits can only take place on July 2, 3 and 4 from 8:00 a.m. to midnight
  • Children 7 and younger partaking in the firework festivities must have a supervising adult within 10 feet, in order to control the application of flame or other means to discharge the firework
  • Residents should only discharge fireworks on private property and should always clean up any trash that is left behind from the discharging of fireworks
  • Remember that not everyone loves fireworks. Be a good neighbor and be sensitive to others when choosing to discharge them. Fireworks can disrupt those sleeping, scare pets and can be an issue for veterans with post traumatic stress disorders.

The rules in the county are different and most of the fireworks stands are located on property that is not within the city limits.

There are typically 9 to 11 fireworks stands operating on property within the city limits. Those operators must get a permit from the city and the stand is inspected by the fire department. The permit fees are based on square footage of the stand. Most fall into less than 300 square feet category and pay a $225 fee. One stand falls in the 301-1,000 square foot category and pays a $475 fee, according to the city planning office. Johnson and Mayor Bob Kelly have delivered fliers with fireworks safety tips and city rules.

Any person who violates the city’s fireworks ordinance may be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to the following fines:

  • 1st Offense – $100
  • 2nd Offense – $200
  • 3rd Offense – $300
  • 4th Offense – $1,000

For more information about 4th of July safety, contact Dirk Johnson, Great Falls Fire Marshal at 727-8070.