Fire marshal urges residents to attend public firework displays
— The time for fireworks is right around the corner, but State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci is urging people to attend public displays of fireworks rather than attempt to set off fireworks themselves.
“I would highly suggest the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend one of the many public fireworks displays throughout the state,” Geraci said in a press release.
In Maryland, it is illegal to use fireworks that go into the air, make a loud noise or move on the ground. Fireworks that are ground-based, such as sparklers, snap poppers and black snakes are legal.
If caught with illegal fireworks, people are subject to citation that requires a mandatory court appearance, a $250 fine per illegal firework and confiscation of the illegal fireworks.
Between 2008 and 2015, 153 firework-related fires were reported in the state, with property damage costing around $1.4 million, said Deputy Bruce Bouch, spokesperson for the Office of the Maryland State Fire
Marshal. Those figures are just the reported fires, and there are likely more fires not reported, he noted.
Although fireworks are beautiful, vibrant and fun to set off, there are safety concerns, even with legal fireworks. Bouch said injuries resulting from fireworks include hand, eye and facial injuries, sometimes leading to permanent damage. Last year, New York Giants defensive end Jason Andrew Pierre-Paul was one such high-profile case, when he tried to throw a lit firework which exploded instead, permanently severing his right index finger and extensively damaging the rest of his hand.
Bouch also advised that sparklers, when ignited, can reach temperatures between 1,200 and 2,000 degrees, which could cause burn injuries, cause clothing to catch fire and, if held close enough to the eyes, cause irreversible cornea damage.
If you choose to use personal fireworks, Bouch asked that people take necessary precautions.
“If you do choose to use legal fireworks, have water on hand,” he said.
He said people should have a bucket of water nearby to put out the firework after it is spent and should pour water on the firework before disposal, which will help to ensure there is no potential for a fire. Also, buy fireworks in the area they are intended to be used, he said. Vendors in the county are only selling those that are legal for use in the county.
There were no firework-related incidents reported in the county for 2015, said Michelle Lloyd, emergency preparedness manager for Cecil County Department of Emergency Services.
”Absolutely, we recommend that citizens go to a show,” she added. “We don’t recommend backyard fireworks.”
The county has three locations where public firework shows will take place.
Chesapeake City will display fireworks at Pell Gardens around 9 p.m. Saturday, while North East will have fireworks at the North East Community Park around 9:15 p.m. Sunday and Elkton will host a fireworks show at Meadow Park starting at 9 p.m. Monday.
For a complete list of firework displays throughout the state, visit www.mdsp.org/firemarshal.
As people are gearing up for the July 4 weekend, people are urged to see professional firework shows rather than create their own firework shows.