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The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' Bureau of Fire Services Warns: Be Safe This Fourth of July - Use Caution with Fireworks

Contact: Mario L. Morrow 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

June 23, 2011. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' (LARA) Bureau of Fire Services today issued a reminder to practice fire safety when using fireworks this Independence Day to help ensure everyone has a happy and safe summer holiday.

"Fireworks can quickly turn a Fourth of July celebration into a tragedy when children and adults are injured while using fireworks," said State Fire Marshal Ronald R. Farr. "For all the fun and excitement of fireworks, they account for an increasingly large number of injuries and fires that are preventable when proper and strict safety measures are taken."

Farr said that extreme care must be used when setting off Michigan-legal fireworks such as cone fountains and cylinder fountains that emit a shower of sparks that can cover a very large area. Farr encourages people to attend professional displays at Fourth of July events run by their municipalities and enjoy the celebrations safely.

"The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home. Attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals," said Farr. "However, if you decide to set them off on your own, make sure that the type of fireworks is legal in Michigan and use extreme caution."

Be sure to follow these important safety tips: -
  • Only adults should ignite any type of Michigan-legal fireworks. 
  • Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay. 
  • Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances. 
  • Once purchased, store fireworks in a cool, dry place and check each package for special storage instructions. 
  • Have one responsible person be in charge of discharging the fireworks. 
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions on the fireworks label. 
  • Only light fireworks outdoors on a flat, smooth surface at least 15 feet away from houses and highly flammable materials such as dry grass or mulch. 
  • Be sure other people and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks. 
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas. 
  • Wear eye protection when handling fireworks and never carry them in your pocket. 
  • Have a garden hose, bucket of water and wet towels ready to use immediately in case of a malfunction or fire.
  • Only light fireworks outdoors on a flat, smooth surface at least 15 feet away from houses and highly flammable materials such as dry grass or mulch. 
  • Be sure other people and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks. 
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas. 
  • Wear eye protection when handling fireworks and never carry them in your pocket. 
  • Have a garden hose, bucket of water and wet towels ready to use immediately in case of a malfunction or fire. 
  • During and after the celebration, wet down all fireworks debris. 
  • Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water before putting them in a garbage can. Remember that cylinder fountains and cone fountains can still be burning on the inside after the shower of sparks have stopped and should be soaked in water before throwing away to prevent a fire.

NEVER: 

  • Give fireworks to children or allow them to play with, or ignite fireworks, or pick up pieces of fireworks after an event; some may still be ignited and can explode at any time. 
  • Purchase or use unlabeled fireworks, experiment with or make your own fireworks. 
  • Light fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over the fireworks. 
  • Set them off in a container. 
  • Throw or point them at other people. 
  • Re-light "dud" fireworks that have not fully functioned; (instead, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water). 
  • Use any type of fireworks indoors.


Michigan's firefighters and emergency medical personnel know all too well of the danger of fireworks. The majority of fireworks-related injuries are burns, followed by contusions and lacerations, and most frequently involve hands and fingers, eyes, head, and face. The risk of fireworks injury is customarily two-and-a-half times higher for children ages 5-9 or 10-14 as for the general population. Parents and caregivers play a critical role in keeping children safe.

Although legal, sparklers present a serious danger because of the high temperature of the wire during and after its use and they can quickly ignite clothing.

"Many children are badly burned by sparklers each year," said Farr. "They can burn as high as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit - this is hot enough to cause third degree burns. Sparklers stay hot long after they've burned out so promptly dispose of the wires in a bucket of water."

As fireworks season begins it is important to know which devices are regulated and require a permit. If you are interested in conducting a fireworks display using regulated devices you must contact the local governing body of the jurisdiction where the proposed display will be conducted to obtain the required permit. Michigan Law, 1931 PA 328, as amended, MCL 750.243; MSA 28.440, regulates the sale, possession, transportation, and use of fireworks devices within the state.

Outdoor displays must comply with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards according to NFPA 1123: Code for Fireworks Display which can be found at www.nfpa.org. The legal devices below can be sold without a permit.

  • Sparklers containing no more than .0125 pounds of burning portion per sparkler 
  • Flitter sparklers in paper tubes not exceeding 1/8 inch in diameter 
  • Toy smoke devices 
  • Toy caps containing not more than .25 grains of explosive content per cap 
  • Toy propellant devices, toy pistols, toy cannons, toy canes, toy trick noise makers, and toy guns in which paper caps are used 
  • Cone and cylinder fountains (emits showers of sparks) 
  • Toy snakes not containing mercury and packed no more than 12 per box


Permits are required for Class B fireworks and fireworks displays. Class B fireworks as defined in the Michigan Penal Code, Act 328 of 1931, as amended, section 750.243a(b) are: "…toy torpedoes, railway torpedoes, firecrackers or salutes that do not qualify as class C fireworks, exhibition display pieces, aeroplane flares, illuminating projectiles, incendiary projectiles, incendiary grenades, smoke projectiles or bombs containing expelling charges but without bursting charges, flash powders in inner units not exceeding 2 ounces each, flash sheets in interior packages, flash powder or spreader cartridges containing not more than 72 grains of flash powder each, and other similar devices." 

Two documents that are followed with respect to fireworks are available from the National Fire Protection Agency at www.nfpa.org: NFPA 1123: Code for Fireworks Display; and NFPA 1124: Code for the Manufacture, Transportation, Storage, and Retail Sales of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles.

To find out more information regarding fireworks safety and the permit process, visit the Bureau of Fire Services website at: website at www.michigan.gov/bfs or contact the Bureau of Fire Safety at (517) 241-8847.

For more information about LARA, please visit www.michigan.gov/lara. Follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/michiganLARA, "Like" us on Facebook or find us on YouTube www.youtube.com/michiganLARA.



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