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June 6, 2012
Contact: State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan
NH State Fire Marshal's Office

Christopher T. Wyman

Celebrate Safely this Fourth of July

With the summer months and the 4th of July closely approaching, the New Hampshire Department of Safety - Office of the State Fire Marshal would like to encourage each citizen living in, or visiting New Hampshire to "Celebrate Safely" when using Permissible Fireworks. According to the National Fire Protection Association, on Independence Day in a typical year, more fires are reported across the country than any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires. In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 fires nation wide. 14,100 outside fires, 1,100 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires. Those fires resulted in an estimated 60 civilian injuries and $36 million dollars in direct property damage. In 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 people for fireworks related injuries. 52% of the firework injuries were burns, while 21% were contusions and lacerations. 39% of the people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15. Fountains, sparklers and novelties accounted for 43% of the injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms.

"There is much that can be done to protect the public and the properties of New Hampshire from unnecessary injury or damage", says State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan. First, the safest way to celebrate the upcoming holiday safely is to attend public firework displays sponsored by your local community or civic organizations, which have professional pyrotechnician's setting up and firing the fireworks. These displays are also inspected by public safety officials to ensure that the pyrotechnician's are setting up and firing the display in accordance with local, state, and national standards for safety.

Second, if you intend on celebrating with permissible fireworks (those legal consumer firework devices sold in New Hampshire licensed retail stores), check with your local fire department to ensure that the possession and display of permissible fireworks is permitted in your community. Set family boundaries, only adults 21 years of age or older are legally allowed to possess and display permissible fireworks. Supervision is paramount in keeping children safe, fireworks should not be readily available to tempt the curiosity of children, and should be stored in a secured location to prohibit their access. Also, remember that summer weather conditions make grasses and other types of vegetation dry and vulnerable to fire, celebrate safely and be aware of the forest fire weather conditions in your community.

Celebrating safely also involves the three B's:

"Be Prepared" before lighting fireworks.

  • Purchase only New Hampshire Permissible Fireworks, available at licensed retail stores throughout the state.
  • Purchase only the quantity that you will use.
  • Permissible fireworks can only be displayed on property that you own, or have written permission from the landowner.
  • Have a water hose or fire extinguisher nearby in case of an unanticipated fire.
  • Create a clear level surface to display your permissible fireworks away from things that can burn, or easily ignite.
  • Call 911 immediately in the event of a fire or medical emergency, don't wait!

"Be Safe" when lighting fireworks.

  • Adults 21 years of age or older should be the only possessing and displaying permissible fireworks.
  • Always wear eye protection.
  • Always read and follow the safety directions provided on each firework device or package.
  • Light only one device at a time and move away quickly.
  • Keep all spectators at a safe distance.
  • Display permissible fireworks only outdoors, away from anything that can burn, or easily ignite.
  • Be considerate of your neighbors, family pets and the environment. You could be liable for damages to another's property.

"Be responsible" when finished.

  • Clean up all debris when you are finished.
  • Devices that do not fire or discharge once they are lit are very dangerous; if a firework device does not fire or discharge, keep away for at least 15 minutes or more, then ensure that it has been filled with water, or placed in a bucket of water.
  • Always make sure that unused fireworks, matches and lighters are secured and out of the reach of children.

Please, "Be Prepared", "Be Safe", and "Be Responsible" when using New Hampshire Permissible Fireworks and celebrate safely this Fourth of July. To learn more about a community fireworks display near you contact your local fire department for available dates and times. For a list of community restrictions, please visit our website at

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