‘Leave Fireworks to the Professionals,’ Says Anne Arundel County Fire Department

Anne Arundel County Fire Department spokesman Division Chief Keith Swindle sent the following important information regarding fireworks safety:

With the Fourth of July less than a week away, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department would like to remind everyone of the dangers associated with illegal fireworks and the improper use of legal ground based displays. Statistics from a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show that fireworks (objects designed to burn or explode) annually cause tens of millions of dollars in property damage, thousands of injuries, as well as some deaths.  Injuries from the intense heat of fireworks typically harm the eyes, head, hands, arms or legs.  Some burns leave disfiguring scars that last a lifetime.

Fireworks #1

Fireworks photo by Camera Slayer

Children are at greatest risk from fireworks, whether as spectators or active participants.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, more then half of all fireworks injuries are to young people under the age of fifteen.  Children between the ages of 10 and 14 accounted for approximately 20% of these injuries.

While most parents work year round to keep their children safe, fireworks discharged in their backyards place their children at substantial risk.  Even sparklers, which can heat up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, pose a serious danger in a child’s hand.

Fireworks are believed to be safe and many are used annually without incident.  However, fireworks consistent performance is based on many factors such as: surroundings (proximity to combustibles) and environmental conditions (wind, dryness, humidity).  Untrained individuals often do not consider these factors and dramatically compromise their margin of safety.

Acting Fire Chief Mike Cox suggests that County residents “Attend public fireworks displays exhibited by trained professionals.  It’s the safest way to enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  Are fireworks legal in Anne Arundel County? A.  No.  The possession and discharge of fireworks without proper permits is illegal in Anne Arundel County.  However, the term “fireworks” does not include devices that contain twenty-five hundredths grain or less of explosive compound, provided they are so constructed that the hand cannot come in contact with the cap in place for use.  Also, sparklers that do not contain chlorates or per chlorates are not defined as fireworks by the law (Anne Arundel County Code, Article 18 Public Safety, Title 2 Fire Prevention Code, and Section 3101). (See attached definitions)

Q.  Can I receive fireworks through the mail? A. No.  The use of the mail for transportation of fireworks is illegal in Anne Arundel County.

Q.  Can I have a private fireworks display at my residence with the proper permits? A. Yes. You can have a public display conducted by a licensed pyro-technician who has the proper permits and insurance.

Q.  Are sparklers legal in Anne Arundel County? A. Yes. Sparklers do not contain any chlorates or per chlorates, they are legal.  Although legal, sparklers can still be dangerous and should only be used outdoors, under adult supervision, and kept away from the body.  Remember sparklers can heat up to 1200 degrees F and pose a serious danger if used improperly.

Q.  How should I dispose of used fireworks? A.  Fireworks that have been used should be treated similar to hot ash from a fireplace or woodstove.  After use, place the sparklers or legal fireworks in a metal bucket of water.  Do not place them in a trash container or combustible bin that could ignite the contents. Always have a garden hose or fire extinguisher nearby while discharging fireworks.

FIREWORKS (Excerpts from COMAR as listed on the State (MD) Fire Marshal web site


§ 10-101. Definitions

     (f)  Fireworks.- 

(1) “Fireworks” means combustible, implosive or explosive compositions, substances, combinations of substances, or articles that are prepared to produce a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, implosion, deflagration, or detonation.

(2) “Fireworks” includes 1.3 G fireworks, 1.4 G fireworks, firecrackers, squibs, rockets, Roman candles, fire balloons, and signal lights.

(3) “Fireworks” does not include:

(i)  toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns, or other devices that use paper caps that contain 0.25 grains or less of explosive composition if the devices are constructed so that a hand cannot touch the cap when the cap is in place for use;

(ii)   toy pistol paper caps that contain less than 0.20 grains of explosive composition;

(iii) sparklers that do not contain chlorates or perchlorates;

(iv) ground-based sparkling devices that are non-aerial and non-explosive, and are labeled in accordance with the requirements of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission;

(v) paper wrapped snappers that contain less than 0.03 grains of explosive composition; or

(vi)  ash-producing pellets known as “snakes” that do not contain mercury and are not regulated by the U. S. Department of Transportation.


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About Mitchelle Stephenson

I've gotta tell Mitchelle! Send your South County news tips, brag on your fab volunteers, talk traffic, police and fire or just say "howdy" to Mitchelle Stephenson, co-founding editor of the South River Source. Mitchelle@SouthRiverSource.com or reach me in person on mobile: 410-353-4706.

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