The Independence Day holiday requires extra diligence from firefighters and the general public. The combination of festive gatherings and enthusiastic patriots lighting fireworks can lead to dangerous situations.  As always, the Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services suggests leaving fireworks displays to the professionals. Fire officials express concern that sparks from fireworks could ignite fires, endangering nearby people and structures.   

“Firefighters are always concerned with the potential for personal injury or damage to property due to fireworks,” said Gwinnett Fire Captain Tommy Rutledge.  

For this reason, fire officials are urging citizens to attend public fireworks displays. Public displays are conducted by licensed, trained and permitted pyrotechnicians. The sites are approved through an application process and inspected by the Gwinnett Fire Community Risk Reduction Division – Fire Marshal’s Office. 

Illegal devices such as M80s, M100s, Blockbusters, Quarter-Sticks and Ash Cans are federally outlawed and should not be sold or used. These devices are extremely dangerous, containing large quantities of explosive powder, and they may not include warning labels or manufacturer identification. They may be higher-priced than other consumer fireworks or novelty products. 

Firefighters warn against allowing children (at any age) to handle or play with fireworks.  Consumer type fireworks can generate temperatures well-over 1000-degrees Fahrenheit and could cause potentially life-threatening burn injuries if not handled properly. The use of fireworks should only be conducted by a responsible adult. Be sure to read and follow all instructions included with any fireworks product. 

For those planning to use consumer type fireworks as part of their celebration, the safety tips listed below will help provide an enjoyable Independence Day for everyone:  

  • Purchase fireworks from a licensed and reputable vendor.
  • Read the directions carefully, and inspect the device for any defects.
  • Keep a bucket of water, garden hose and fire extinguisher close by.
  • Ignite fireworks outdoors in an open area away from buildings, vehicles, vegetation or any other combustible material.
  • Ignite only one device at a time, and use a “punk-stick” to maintain a safe distance 
  • Always keep a safe distance between yourself and the fireworks device.
  • Remember to allow enough room for the proper functioning of fireworks. 
  • Always ignite fireworks on a firm, flat surface.
  • Never give fireworks to a child, and keep children away from any immediate firework area.
  • Never attempt to fix or re-ignite a malfunctioning device.  Instead, discard it safely by soaking it in a bucket of water.
  • Before going to bed or when leaving the area, remember to inspect the area where fireworks were used.
  • Make sure that no smoldering fires, hot embers or sparks are present from falling fireworks debris. Wet the area with a garden hose for added protection.
  • Store unused fireworks in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children or pets and away from open flames. 
  • When discarding fireworks, remember to always soak them in a bucket of water for several hours before placing them in the trash.

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