State Fire Marshal Urges Extreme Caution, Safety

If you plan to celebrate Independence Day by setting off a few fireworks or giving the kids sparklers, know the dangers and take every safety precaution to avoid tragedy.

That’s especially true with the more powerful consumer-grade devices such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, sky lanterns and Roman candles.

“Fireworks are a risky thrill and are best left to professionals,” State Fire Marshal Richard Miller said. “If you do plan to shoot your own fireworks, remember you are playing with explosives and that if used incorrectly, can cause irreparable injury and harm. Both consumers and certified fireworks retailers together must make safety their top priority and responsibility.”

According to the latest data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, injuries from fireworks accounted for 11,400 emergency room visits and eight deaths in 2013. The most common injuries were to the eyes, hands, head and face. Most inflictions were to bystanders rather than the activators of the fireworks themselves.

In Michigan, consumer fireworks became legal Jan. 1, 2012 and must meet CPSC standards. They will only be sold to people 18 years of age or older. Low impact fireworks (ground-based items such as sparklers, toy snakes, snaps, and poppers) are legal for sale and use. Be sure to check local ordinances for other limitations on the use of fireworks.

State law requires consumer-grade fireworks only be ignited from personal property. It is illegal to ignite fireworks on public property (including streets and sidewalks), school property, church property or another person’s property without their express permission. State law makes it illegal to discharge fireworks when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. When fire-related incidents involve consumer, low impact, or illegal fireworks resulting in property damage, injury or death of another person, individuals are subject to being convicted of a misdemeanor or felony punishable by imprisonment of not more than five years and fines of up to $10,000 or both, depending upon the severity of the crime.

“The Bureau of Fire Services fire inspectors are issuing tickets to sellers who are non-compliant with the Fireworks Safety Act,” said Miller. “We must ensure fireworks retailers operate their businesses safely to protect the public. Always buy from state-certified fireworks retailers.”

Miller encourages people to enjoy professional fireworks displays by attending events run by their municipalities. If consumer fireworks are used at home, here are safety tips to protect lives and property while enjoying the Fourth of July. *Always purchase fireworks from an authorized retailer and follow the manufacturer’s directions. *Do not buy fireworks packaged in brown paper, they are for professional use. *Have an adult supervise fireworks activities, including sparklers. *Light fireworks one at a time, then immediately back away to a safe distance. *Keep people and pets out of range before lighting fireworks. *Light fireworks outdoors on a driveway or other paved surface at least 25 feet away from houses and highly flammable materials such as dry grass or mulch. *Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap. *Douse spent fireworks in a bucket of water before discarding them.

**Never: *Allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. *Place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. *Try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. *Point or throw fireworks at other people. *Carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers. *Purchase or use unlabeled fireworks, experiment with or make your own fireworks. *Re-light “dud” fireworks that have not fully functioned; (instead, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).

Miller also warns of the dangers of sparklers. Children are being injured by being poked with sparkler wires and are being badly burned by sparklers each year.

“More than 50 percent of sparkler-related injuries happen to kids under age 14 across the country,” he said. “Sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit which can cause third degree burns. They can quickly ignite clothing and can cause grass fires if thrown on the ground. Always promptly dispose of used sparklers in a bucket of water.”

A list of legal consumer fireworks, legal low impact fireworks, and novelties is outlined below or go to To learn more about fireworks safety, the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, or obtain a list of state-certified fireworks retailers, go to the Bureau of Fire Services website at

For more information about LARA, please visit

Fireworks a Risky Thrill was last modified: July 1st, 2015 by Karen Elford