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Firework Safety from the NIH Fire Marshal​

The NIH Fire Marshal would like to share a few tips on the use of fireworks. During the COVID -19 pandemic of 2020 many people turned to private fireworks displays due to the cancellation of most public fireworks displays. These displays often result in serious injuries. Last year the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 12 non-occupational fireworks-related deaths. Recently a roman candle was fired from the street and ignited a fifth-floor balcony of a senior housing building in Northwest Washington, D.C. Investigators say dozens of senior residents were put at risk in the fire and several people were evaluated by EMS crews at the scene. The seriousness of the situation is apparent in this photo: https://wjla.com/news/local/gallery/illegal-firework-starts-fire-at-dc-housing-property.

Fireworks are dangerous to people, pets and property. More than 19,500 fires are started by fireworks annually resulting with over $100 million in direct property loss. Burns account for 44 percent of the 10,000 injuries treated in emergency rooms in the month around the Fourth of July holiday. Handheld sparklers can burn at 1200 degrees and account for roughly one-quarter of emergency room injuries during this holiday. For more information see one of the following videos (anyone unable to view these videos may contact the NIH Fire Marshal for a verbal explanation): https://youtu.be/ZlJ9X1ZA8ds or https://youtu.be/KCPgPjHnGn0.

In many jurisdictions, most or all personal use of fireworks is illegal. The best way to stay safe from fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display put on by certified pyrotechnicians rather than using them yourself. The following tips will help make public fireworks safer and more enjoyable:

  • Stay away from where the fireworks are exploding.
  • Obey all monitors and security personnel who are enforcing safety barriers and exit paths.
  • Do not touch unexploded fireworks. Keep others away and contact the local fire or police department.
  • Wear earplugs to protect your hearing.
  • Avoid bringing pets to firework displays. The loud noises can damage their hearing.

If you have any questions regarding fireworks or general fire safety precautions, please contact the NIH Fire Marshal at 301-496-0487. Use their hazard reporting tool for situations on the Bethesda campus: https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/ser/dfm/Pages/Community-Complaint-Report.aspx​. You may remain anonymous when reporting a hazard, but it always helps to have a contact so they can obtain information as needed.

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