Dry Conditions Make Professional Displays the Best Bet for 4th of July Fireworks

Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 1:50am

Suspend Use of Fire Pits for Now

The lack of rain in the area has created dry conditions that are especially susceptible to grass and brush fires. It makes the use of consumer fireworks and any outdoor burning even more dangerous than usual.

Just last week, City of Madison firefighters responded to a grass fire along the interstate. When they got there, they found a roman candle firework stuck in a chain link fence next to the area where the grass fire occurred. That scenario is likely to play out repeatedly with increased use of fireworks that explode and/or leave the ground.

Under City of Madison ordinances only sparklers, snakes, snaps, caps and party poppers are legal within the City limits.

The forfeiture for violating MGO, 34.3308(1), UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF FIREWORKS is:
Adult - 1st. Offense $334.50
Adult - 2nd. Offense and Subsequent Offences $429.00
Juvenile - $114.00

At this point, the Fire Department is issuing no official bans outside of current City ordinances. However, in light of the drought-like conditions, the Department is strongly encouraging that no fire pits be used during the coming week and until there is significant rainfall. And residents are urged to leave fireworks to the professionals.

The Department considers professionally-managed public displays a superior alternative to backyard pyrotechnics both in terms of quality and safety. There are two major displays scheduled in the City during the next week - Rhythm & Booms, on Saturday, June 30, and the event at Elver Park on Tuesday, July 3. These displays are carefully managed by pyrotechnicians with the oversight of Fire Department inspectors.

City of Madison Fire Inspectors are on site at set-up, during the event and afterwards to ensure codes are followed, a safe perimeter is established, and any leftover shells are disposed of properly.

During the event, Engine 8 will join Engine 10, staging at Firehouse #10. The Department's brush truck will patrol the area to respond to any spot fires. Four teams of paramedics will also be on the grounds to treat any injuries or illnesses that arise.

The most common health and safety issues at public displays can be prevented with some simple steps:
• Apply sunscreen liberally and throughout the day, as the sunscreen can lose its effectiveness over time.
• Stay hydrated with lots of water - moderate any intake of alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they do not hydrate effectively.
• Respect perimeters on the grounds. A cordoned-off area indicates that area has been determined to be a spot where more debris is expected to fall.
• If you are near the launch site, it is appropriate to use eye-protection. One of the most common complaints for EMS service is foreign objects in the eye as a result of falling debris.
• Persons with respiratory ailments, such as asthma, are encouraged to locate farther away from the launch site for better air quality.
• Leave fireworks, grills, and pets at home. The number of people at these public events makes any of these "bringalongs" a hazard to those around you.

In recent years, fireworks have been one of the leading causes of injuries serious enough to require hospital emergency room treatment. Fireworks can result in severe burns, fractures, scars or even death or disfigurement that can last a lifetime. The thousands of serious injuries each year typically harm the eyes, head, or hands, and are mostly reported in states where fireworks are legal. Even sparklers, which are considered by many to be harmless, reach temperatures of more than 1,000° F.

Facts About Fireworks:
• 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% of 2010 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 37% were to the head.
• The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-14, 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.
Source: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)


  • Lori Wirth(608) 266-5947