The following letter to the editor, authored by NFPA President Jim Shannon, appeared on the website of The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA) on April 13, 2014.
I was outraged to see the House of Representatives take an initial step on a bill that would legalize sparklers and other small fireworks, which are currently prohibited in Massachusetts (“Bill to legalize smaller fireworks advances in House,” March 27). This is a dangerous and misguided idea that should go no further.
For more than 100 years, the National Fire Protection Association has opposed the use of consumer fireworks for the simple reason that consumer fireworks are so inherently dangerous; there is no safe way for the public to engage in this activity.
Rep. George Peterson, who introduced the bill, was quoted as saying the legislation is “nothing … that is really offensive” and would allow people to “celebrate with a little more pizzazz on holidays and the Fourth of July.” What Rep. Peterson did not say is that sparklers can burn to a dangerous 1,200 degrees, and more than 80 percent of emergency room injuries involve fireworks that consumers are permitted to use. Many of those injured are young children.
It is also true that 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.
Passage of this harmful legislation would cause additional burden on an already overworked fire service and on emergency room staff who must deal with the onslaught of fires and devastating injuries caused by consumer fireworks. As responsible adults, it is imperative that we set a good example and leave the fireworks to the professionals.
Legislators should reject the fireworks bill and allow Massachusetts to remain a national leader in opposing the use of consumer fireworks.