It’s a holiday week, but don’t forget the fireworks rules

It’s a holiday week in Great Falls and Great Falls Fire Rescue is reminding residents to follow the rules and safety precautions for fireworks.

City officials also ask that residents using fireworks be respectful of their neighbors, especially veterans and pets.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Committee 2014 Annual Report, 230 people on average visited the emergency room every day during the month of July with a fireworks injury. Nine people died due to eight fireworks-related incidents. In at least two incidents, the victims were not the firework user. Over 50 percent of all fireworks-related injuries involve burns.

Fewer calls over this July 4 holiday than previous years; open burning remains prohibited in Cascade County

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

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including: 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries and an average of $43 million in direct property damage.

In 2015, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks related injuries; 51 percent of those injuries were to the extremities and 41 percent were to the head. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 26 percent of the estimated 2015 injuries. These injury estimates were obtained or derived from the CPSC’s 2015 Fireworks Annual Report.

Resident asks city to consider banning fireworks within city limits

GFFR reminds residents of these safety tips when deciding to purchase legal fireworks this Fourth of July season:

  • Read Directions – Read the cautionary labels and directions before discharging.
  • 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 – Sparklers 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.

Within the city limits, the sale and discharge of fireworks is only allowed on July 2-4 from 8 a.m. to midnight. Children 10 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.

City working to update municipal code

Residents should only discharge fireworks on private property such as a walkway leading to your residence and/or the driveway and should always clean up any trash that is left behind from the discharging of fireworks. Fireworks are prohibited on all public property, such as streets, sidewalks, public rights-of-way, easements or alleys.

The City Commission changed the code last year raising the age to 10 for those requiring parental supervision to discharge fireworks.

The commission also added a provision, at the suggestion of Commissioner Bill Bronson, to allow the city manager, after consultation with the fire chief, to issue an emergency declaration banning the use of fireworks during the normal allowable times if weather conditions such as high winds, drought or extreme heat, pose a danger to public safety.