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Fire Marshal Urges that Fireworks be Left to the Pros

Firing off fireworks in your neighborhood can not only result in injury but a structure fire or wildland fire.

As we head into the most explosive holiday of the year, your local fire marshal has one message:

"Leave the fireworks to the professionals," said Bill Tyler of the .

Locally, that would mean the folks who shoot off fireworks each night of the through the Fourth of July.

Tyler said the message needs to be emphasized heading into the country's anniversary celebration, which prompts some parents in Marin County — where fireworks are illegal except if shot off my permit-holding pros — go up to Sonoma County or other counties to purchase fireworks and bring them back home.

"All summer long we're going to get fires here because of fireworks bought elsewhere," he said. "It's a tough battle because we all grew up with fireworks, and that was part of the fun. But kids get injured all the time, especially when they're trying to light them off when parents aren't around."

Children younger than 15 years old account for 40 percent of the estimated 8,600 fireworks-related injuries nationwide in 2010, according to stats from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and National Fire Protection Association. The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (30 percent), legs (22 percent), eyes (21 percent), and head/face/ears (16 percent). Bottle rockets can fly into peoples' faces and cause eye injuries; sparklers can ignite clothing (sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees); and firecrackers can injure the hands or face if they explode at close range.

It's not just personal injuries that prompt Tyler to reiterate his annual warning. It's the danger of fires that could engulf a home in minutes.

"We live in an environment where houses are intermingled with wildland. We have over 12,000 parcels like that in Novato. All it takes is one spark under certain conditions and you have a real problem that can turn into a tragedy."

In fact, and are stories from last summer involving fireworks-triggered fires in Novato.

Tyler's punchline: Resist the urge.

"We want people to find other ways to enjoy Independence Day," he said.

For a story about fireworks, click here

Robert J. Cleek July 02, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Any kid over the age of eight knows that if Mom says, "You could put your eye out with that!" it definitely is fun. I suppose it's a good thing to try to keep a lid on the wildfires, but the gradual outlawing of fireworks, starting with "the good stuff" like cherry bombs and M-80's, and now, for Pete's sake, all the way to sparklers and snakes, seems to parallel the decline of America's preeminence in the world. Coincidence? Seriously, though, I think that Petaluma's approach is much more "safe and sane" than any outright ban. The fireworks are certified "safe and sane," and sold from booths operated by non-profits, many of whom earn a substantial portion of their budgets from the enterprise. They can only be shot off in specially designated areas, usually parks, during specific hours on July 4, and are supervised by public safety officers. As far as I know, there have not been any injuries and I don't think Sonoma has any greater wildfire incidents than Marin as a result.
Ella July 03, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Will police respond to reports of backyard fireworks shows on the 4th? Should we bother reporting them?

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