Summer is officially here. 'Tis the season for fireworks shows and displays.
NFPA 1, Fire Code, 2015 edition, contains provisions for the storage, use, and handling or explosives, fireworks, and model rocketry in Chapter 65. More specifically, Section 65.2 requires the construction, handling, and use of fireworks intended solely for outdoor display as well as the general conduct and operation of the display to be in compliance with the requirements of NFPA 1123, Code for Fireworks Display, 2014 edition. In addition, permits are required per Section 1.12 of the Code.
NFPA 1123 contains information on how to set up and operate professional outdoor fireworks displays in order to prevent injuries to both the workers handling the fireworks and to the viewing audience, as well as to prevent fires that could cause property damage.
It addresses construction and operation of fireworks displays from the ground, elevated platforms, and floating vessels and platforms, including aerial shells and equipment, site selection, spectator separation distances, firing of shells, electrical ignition and qualifications of display operators. Recommended local permit regulations and regulations for outdoor displays and suggested qualifications for licensing of display operators are provided in Annex material.
NFPA's site dedicated to fireworks safety is the go to resource for data, reports, information, and free safety tip sheets. From a newly published report by NFPA's Marty Ahrens the following facts show the danger of fireworks during this time of year:
- In 2013, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 30 civilian injuries and $21 million in direct property damage.
- In 2014, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 10,500 people for fireworks related injuries; 51% of those injuries were to the extremities and 38% were to the head. These injury estimates were obtained or derived from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2014 Fireworks Annual Report by Yongling Tu and Demar Granados.
- More than one-quarter (28%) of fires started by fireworks in 2009-2013 were reported on July 4th. Almost half (47%) of the reported fires on the Fourth of July were started by fireworks
Fireworks can be extremely dangerous and must be left up to the professionals at all times. NFPA 1, through a reference to NFPA 1123, provides the guidance jurisdictions need to help ensure both the audience as well as the professional operators and employees are kept safe.
Do you plan to see a professional fireworks show this season? Are you responsible for enforcing permits or code requirements during fireworks performances? What challenges do you face?