2012-07-12 / Letters to the Editor

Fireworks are a danger to people and property

In the past few years fireworks have been available for sale to consumers in Rhode Island. They are readily accessible and sold at convenience stores, supermarkets and in roadside tents in the days leading up to July 4. But just because we are allowed to purchase fireworks doesn’t mean we should.

Take a look at these recent statistics, put out in June by the National Fire Protection Agency:

• In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage.

• In 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,600 people for fireworks-related injuries: 57 percent of the injuries were to the extremities and 37 percent were to the head.

• The risk of injury by fireworks was highest for children ages 5 through 14, with more than twice the risk for the general population.

• 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.

Just this past week in Pelham, N.H., 11 people at a family gathering were seriously injured in a backyard fireworks display gone bad. Five of the victims were young children.

Among the problems with backyard displays is that there is potential for damage and injury on both ends of the activity. The person lighting the display and those around them are at risk for personal injury. Their own property, including the house, cars and trees, are at risk for fires. Then, after the firework is lit and rises some 100 feet or more above the yard, there is no way to know for certain where it lands and whether there are still live sparks and embers on the receiving end.

I did not shoot off any fireworks from my own yard July 4, but when I woke on July 5, my yard, garden and back porch were littered with spent fireworks – any one of which could have started a fire. Yes, I do resent my property being put at risk without my permission or consent.

I propose that the Jamestown Town Council address this issue before the next Independence Day comes around, that enforceable policies are put in place to protect people and property, and that those policies are clearly posted and an educational campaign is launched to address the clear dangers of consumer fireworks.

Donna Drago Walcott Avenue Jamestown

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