Nashville, TN – The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office has a simple message for Tennesseans this Fourth of July: Let the pros handle the fireworks.
With numerous professional displays scheduled for the Fourth including the nation’s largest in Nashville, there’s no shortage of festive and colorful fireworks to enjoy in Tennessee. State fire officials urge Tennesseans to take part in these professionally run events instead of risking their lives and possibly breaking the law by detonating fireworks themselves.“The Fourth of July is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “We encourage Tennesseans to enjoy the holiday at a public display presented by trained professionals, where compliance with state-of-the-art fire codes offers a safer way to celebrate our nation’s independence.”
Using fireworks at home can have tragic consequences. A fireworks-related tragedy has already struck Tennessee this year after a 12-year-old Nashville boy was killed by an exploding firework Sunday night. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is still making inquiries about where the mortar-style shell was purchased and what type and size of shell was involved in the incident.
Unfortunately, fireworks-related fatalities and injuries happen frequently. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 11 people were killed and more than 10,000 were injured last year by fireworks. In addition to injuries, fireworks can devastate homes and property.
Tennessee fire departments responded to 859 fires that were caused by fireworks which caused $1.78 million in property damage from 2010-2014, according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System.
Shooting fireworks at home requires that consumers learn their local fireworks laws. Tennessee’s counties and most of its cities have ordinances and restrictions regarding fireworks usage. Before detonating any firework, the State Fire Marshal’s Office urges residents to check with local police and fire department to determine the local laws about fireworks.
A 2007 Tennessee law prevents children under 16 from purchasing fireworks; and those who are age 16 or 17 must present a photo ID to purchase them.
State legislation passed in 2011 reclassified sky lanterns as special fireworks exclusively for use by individuals with a professional license (certified flame effect operator, certified outdoor display operator or certified proximate pyrotechnic operator). The general public cannot purchase or use sky lanterns.
A new law passed this year prohibits flying a drone (unmanned aircraft) above an outdoor ticketed event with more than 100 people, or in the vicinity of a fireworks display site, without the permission of the event operator.
If consumer fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:
- Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks.
- Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
- Wear eye protection.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals.
- Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials.
- Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
- Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Sparklers are not toys and cause hundreds of injuries every year. Sparklers burn hot, can reach temperatures as high as 1,200° F, and stay hot long after they’ve burned out. You wouldn’t hand a matchbook or lighter to a child to wave or play with – so, don’t give a child a sparkler.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns of fireworks dangers. These fireworks demonstrations show the potential for injury and death.
About the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance
TDCI is charged with protecting the interests of consumers while providing fair, efficient oversight and a level field of competition for a broad array of industries and professionals doing business in Tennessee.
Our divisions include the Athletic Commission, Consumer Affairs, Tennessee Corrections Institute, Emergency Communications Board, Fire Prevention, Insurance, Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, Peace Officers Standards and Training, Regulatory Boards, Securities, and TennCare Oversight.