Lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering a bill that would legalize the sale and use of consumer fireworks in the state, but the legislation is facing strong opposition from local fire officials and NFPA.
House Bill 3372, "An Act Relative to the Sale and Use of Fireworks", filed by MA State Representative Richard Bastien, would give cities and towns the option to issue permits to use fireworks as well as licenses to sell them. Fireworks would remain illegal in communities that choose not to participate.
"For more than 100 years, NFPA has opposed the use of consumer fireworks for the simple reason that consumer fireworks are so inherently dangerous," wrote NFPA President Jim Shannon in a Feburary 27, 2012, letter to members of the state's Public Safety Committee.
In 2009, fireworks caused an estimated 18,000 reported fires in the United States, including 1,300 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 other fires, and resulted in 30 civilian injuries and $38 million in direct property damage.
In addition, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 people for fireworks related injuries in 2009. Just over half of those injuries were to the extremities and 42% were to the head.
VIDEO: NFPA's Jim Shannon discusses the safety concerns surrounding consumer fireworks and addresses the Massachusetts legislative efforts to legalize the devices.
"If this bill becomes law, it is reasonable to expect an increase in injuries and visits to emergency rooms," says Mr. Shannon. "Sadly, our experience indicates that most of those injured will be children. As responsible adults, it is imperative the we set a good example and leave the fireworks to the professionals."
Four states ban the use of fireworks by consumers: Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. The other 46 states and the District of Columbia permit some or all consumer fireworks.
What do you think about the consumer use of fireworks? Click on the "Comments" link below to respond.