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    Posted on Wed, Jun. 29, 2005

    Playing with fire on the 4th

    As fireworks injuries rise, experts stress safety, caution


    The Kansas City Star

    Conrad Bonney wasn’t too happy last July 4 when his parents wouldn’t allow him to shoot off fireworks. Too dangerous, they said.

    So they would only let the 11-year-old watch others shoot them off across the street. But as Conrad sat on the ground watching, a fireball from a “fountain” shot up the leg of his shorts. It lodged between his thighs, melting his boxers and burning his skin.

    “It was just a freak accident, but I don’t want it to happen to anyone else,” said the Kansas City youngster.

    Conrad underwent four skin grafts and spent 24 days at Children’s Mercy Hospital, most of that time in the burn unit. His advice for other kids this Fourth of July: Stay away from fireworks. Far away.

    “I’m trying to get the point out not to do them,” he said, “even though I’m going to miss them.”


    » July 4 | interactive feature from The Star


    Last year was particularly bad for fireworks injuries locally — a 4-year-old Platte County girl died, and a woman and six children were burned when a bag of fireworks exploded in a sport-utility vehicle. Fireworks accidents nationally also have been on the rise recently, although they are lower than 1990s levels.

    The good news is that the number of persons injured is not rising with the dramatic increase in the amount of fireworks purchased in the United States. Retail sales are at record levels, with Americans buying 212 million pounds of fireworks last year, or two pounds for every household.

    Despite the recent rise in injuries, fireworks are being used more safely than they were 10 or 15 years ago, said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, a leading trade group. Citing government statistics, Heckman said the number of persons injured by fireworks in a year has dropped 30 percent from its peak a decade ago.

    Still, about 9,600 persons a year are injured by fireworks. Many victims are children. And some of those injuries are serious.

    “The Fourth of July is something that really gets us going because the injuries we see are so bad,” said Denise Dowd, chief of injury prevention at Children’s Mercy Hospital’s emergency department.

    Last year the hospital treated 38 children for fireworks injuries during the holiday, compared with about 20 to 30 in an average year.

    An analysis of Consumer Product Safety Commission data by The Kansas City Star found that:

    ■ Nearly half of those injured nationally are children under 15, and three-fourths of the injuries are to boys. The most-often injured group is boys 5 to 9 years old.

    ■ Parts of the body injured the most are the eye, face, hand and fingers.

    ■ Firecrackers are the number-one source of fireworks injury, followed by sparklers and bottle rockets.

    The safety agency also has been tracking an increasing number of fireworks-related deaths: four each in 2001 and 2002; six in 2003 and eight last year. Of that nationwide total, two were in the Kansas City area — the 4-year-old who died last year after being struck by a fireworks fragment, and a 33-year-old man who was killed by a mortar he was igniting in 2002.

    Fireworks also cause all sorts of bizarre accidents.

    Dig deep enough into Consumer Product Safety Commission data and you’ll find people knocked down stairs by fireworks. Or bumped off their bikes. And no fewer than a dozen persons have been hurt when frightened dogs wrapped their masters up in a leash and they fell.

    Noise from the explosions can hurt you, too. Melanie Macko, an area audiologist, said four or five of her patients in the past six years have attributed their hearing loss to fireworks. In those cases, Macko said, the loss was permanent.

    “People like to be stupid and play a joke on someone by putting a firecracker too close to them,” Macko said. “That can be very dangerous.”

    Most hearing damage from fireworks is temporary. But a loud enough blast can destroy part of the inner ear that facilitates hearing. Children are especially vulnerable because their ear canals are smaller, Macko said.

    But if you’re looking for fireworks this Fourth of July, you’re in the right place. Missouri is one of the top states for fireworks entrepreneurs — both legal and illegal — according to industry and government officials.

    The National Fireworks Association even has its headquarters in this area. And northern Missouri is a hotbed of fireworks makers and wholesalers, said state fire marshal Randy Cole.

    In fact, there are so many fireworks operations in Missouri, Cole said, that the number of illegal sales he stops each year depends mostly on how many investigators he can send into the field.

    “We’ll typically see four or five operations that deal illegal fireworks,” he said. “We do see more incidents than we would like to see concerning the sale and use of illegal fireworks.”

    In Kansas, the state fire marshal’s office said it relies mostly on local police to uncover illegal fireworks operations.

    Even legal fireworks, however, pose risks. Many health advocates recommend keeping fireworks away from children and limiting viewing to the public displays put on by licensed professionals.

    Although retail sales are booming, tight government regulations and tighter budgets have public fireworks display companies struggling financially this Fourth of July, industry officials said.

    “For the professional display side of the industry, it’s about survival right now,” Heckman said. “For the retailers, they’re kind of rolling in the riches.”

    But Dowd said there’s a price being paid by the children she sees at Children’s Mercy’s emergency room. Many of them are like Conrad, who wasn’t doing anything wrong.

    “The fact of the matter is, in a study we did several years ago, half the time kids are injured, it’s the adults that are handling the fireworks,” Dowd said. “It’s not just kids being irresponsible.”

    The person who lighted the boat-shaped fireworks fountain that injured Conrad was an adult neighbor, said Conrad’s father, Doug Bonney.

    The boat accidentally tipped over and shot fireballs sideways instead of skyward, he said.

    “To be honest, I have mixed feelings” about responsibility for the accident, he said. Bonney, a lawyer, hasn’t tried to hold anyone legally responsible.

    The Bonneys won’t be anywhere near fireworks this Fourth of July. They’re traveling to a national park where fireworks are banned.

    And Conrad, who is 12 now and will carry scars for life, said he’s through with fireworks — for now.

    “I hope to someday overcome my fear of fireworks,” he said with a smile.

    Stay safe while shooting fireworks

    ■ Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.

    ■ Never give fireworks to small children.

    ■ Adults should always supervise use of fireworks by older children.

    ■ Never ignite fireworks indoors.

    ■ Never point or throw fireworks at a person, building or animal.

    ■ Have a source of water handy.

    ■ Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.

    ■ Light only one firework at a time.

    ■ Never attempt to relight malfunctioning fireworks.

    ■ Never position any part of your body over a firework.

    ■ Never carry fireworks in pockets.

    Source: Kansas State Fire Marshal

    Leave a comment:

    Fireworks’ uses renew concerns
    Burn unit director recalls past injuries.

    By JASON ROSENBAUM of the Tribune’s staff
    Published Sunday, June 26, 2005
    Thousands of people each year in Mid-Missouri watch fireworks illuminate the sky during the Independence Day weekend.

    James Kraatz, director of the George David Peak Memorial Burn Unit at University Hospital, said he has treated people who’ve had fireworks explode much closer to the ground.

    "Last year on the Fourth of July, we were pretty busy," Kraatz said. "We had, I believe, nine patients admitted as the result of fireworks injuries. However, that was a little bit exceptional. Typically I’d say we’d admit two or three injuries in the course of the week surrounding the Fourth of July."

    Such injuries can be severe.

    "I’ve seen injuries in which people lost most of the fingers on their hand as a result of homemade fireworks. I’ve also seen injuries where people were blinded as the result of being inadvertently shot in the face with commercially available fireworks," Kraatz said.

    "I believe last year the patients under the age of 18 that we saw were evenly divided either between sparkler injuries, in which they grabbed a hot sparkler they thought was out, or a fire cracker that went off in a hand," he said.

    Since it is legal to shoot off fireworks outside Columbia’s city limits, fire officials from Columbia and Boone County are urging people to exercise caution when using the potentially dangerous explosives.

    Columbia Fire Battalion Chief Steve Sapp said if a person is caught launching fireworks inside city limits, they could face as much as a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

    "Neither the Columbia police or fire department want to issue summonses," Sapp said. "We’d rather have willful compliance: people doing the right thing and following the rules."

    Capt. Gale Blomenkamp of the Boone County Fire Protection District said the fire district usually doesn’t run into too many fireworks problems during the Fourth of July, as long as they’re legally sold.

    "The problem we run into are the illegal fireworks," Blomenkamp said.

    Blomenkamp said fireworks become illegal and dangerous when people wire multiple fireworks together or add an inordinate amount of gunpowder to one firework.

    "They get too big, and people don’t anticipate what the firework is going to do," Blomenkamp said. "They don’t really know if that thing is going to fly horizontally or vertically. Those are the things that we don’t want people to do."

    Kraatz said accidents with homemade fireworks can be fatal and added that injuries from commercially available fireworks can be substantial.

    "From the standpoint of commercially available Class C fireworks, I think that it’s much, much more common for people to have disfiguring, disabling or even blinding injuries as a result of inappropriate use of fireworks," Kraatz said.

    Blomenkamp said people need to take a number of safety measures if they decide to use fireworks. He said the fireworks should be positioned vertically and that there should be a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in the event of an accidental fire.

    He also said it’s important to keep a safe distance from the fireworks as they’re readied for launch.

    "People tend to want to light them off too closely," he said.

    Blomenkamp added that people should not shoot off fireworks while under the influence of alcohol.

    "Alcohol and fireworks do not mix," he said.

    Sapp said residents of Columbia and Boone County would be better off not launching fireworks on their own.

    "We recommend going to one of the shows put on by the professionals," Sapp said. "It’s just a safer means to enjoy fireworks."

    Reach Jason Rosenbaum at (573) 815-1723 or [email protected].

    Copyright © 2005 The Columbia Daily Tribune. All Rights Reserved.

    Leave a comment:

    Fireworks explosion leaves 3 injured
    By Michele Munz
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Fireworks explode at river level on a barge in the Missouri River near Hermann, Mo. on Monday.
    (Ken Kunstmann)

    HERMANN, Mo. - On Monday night, Herb Hurst and Melissa Stigman were enjoying a typical Fourth of July with their kids, eating kettlecorn and waiting for Hermann's 30-minute annual fireworks show to start.

    What they got instead was a show that erupted in 30 seconds, creating a blast that rattled windows three miles away. Bright flashes filled the grounds, they said, as Hurst's 9-year-old son Chris scrambled from his blanket and jumped into his father's lap. The boy sobbed for the next 10 minutes as nearly 2,000 other people watched in awe from their viewing area at Riverfront Park on the south side of the Missouri River as the conflagration unfolded on the north shore. Emergency crews flew across the two-lane bridge to the other side.

    "People sat there for a while wondering, 'What just went on? What in the world did we just see? Who's over there, and is anybody hurt?'," said Dolores Smith, one of the spectators.

    Chris put his hands together and asked God to keep everybody safe.

    Just as many others did that day, Hurst and Stigman said they took the children to watch the 4 p.m. parade down the center of the city. They went to the park for the kiddy tractor pull - which really involves tricycles - and turtle races. People watched the Hermann Municipal Band play, and they ate bratwurst and homemade ice cream.

    Only 2,700 live in the city, known for its wineries and antique shops. But the show brings many visitors from nearby towns. The city's 55 bed and breakfasts all were full.

    The fireworks show started a bit late, around 9:30 p.m.

    "Then all of a sudden, chaos happened," said Hurst, 41.

    Witnesses describe bright flashes of colors filling the beach that then turned into a giant bonfire. And the sound almost knocked one over, people said. Veterans likened it to the explosion of an ammunition dump.

    All-American Display Fireworks had been hired by the Hermann Chamber of Commerce to put on the show, as it had for the last 15 years. Hermann Police Chief Frank Tennant said a crew member told him burning debris from a misfire or low burst ignited the explosives. The initial blast started a chain reaction, detonating nearly all of the display - about 700 pounds worth, according to the Missouri Fire Marshal's office, which is investigating the incident.

    Three members of the five-man crew suffered burns: Brad Link, 26, James Pollard, 25, and Cory Carson, 17. They are believed to be from the Greenwood, Mo., area, a Kansas City suburb where the fireworks company is located.

    They were treated in the emergency room at the Hermann Area District Hospital and later taken to the burn unit at Columbia Regional Hospital. Their injuries are not life-threatening, and they were in stable condition Tuesday, Tennant said.

    Officials with All-American Display, which also operates the wholesale fireworks company Wald & Co. Inc., would not comment until the investigation is complete. Its Web site says the company started in 1924 and has satellite offices in Ellinwood, Kan., and San Antonio. "Our reputation of excellent variety, quality and service is equaled only by our safety record," the site reads.

    Olan Stemme, a Chamber of Commerce board member, said the organization has had a good relationship with the operators and planned to keep using the company. "They are very methodical, very precise, very specific about what they do," he said.

    Stemme added: "We feel real, real fortunate that no one was fatally injured or really seriously injured."

    Reporter Michele Munz
    E-mail: [email protected]
    Phone: 314-340-8263

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    Teen's fireworks start small grass fire

    GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) - Fireworks are again to blame for starting a
    fire in Jefferson County.
    A 16-year-old boy got a ticket today after a firework he set off
    started a small grass fire at a private residence. Firefighters
    were able to extinguish the blaze quickly and no property was
    The ticket was for fourth degree arson and the teen will now
    have to appear before a judge.
    Fireworks are also believed to have started a wildfire north of
    Golden last week, a blaze that destroyed a shed and came
    dangerously close to some homes. Investigators are expected to
    decide this week whether the three juveniles who allegedly used the
    fireworks should face criminal charges.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    Leave a comment:

  • gunnyv
    From the Firehouse.com front page

    Fire Destroys Waipahu Apartment Complex
    Multiple Fires Stretch HFD Crews

    POSTED: 4:42 p.m. HST July 5, 2005
    UPDATED: 9:58 a.m. HST July 6, 2005

    Story by The Hawaii Channel

    WAIPAHU, Oahu, Hawaii -- Fire engulfed an apartment complex in Waipahu Tuesday, leaving families homeless. This happened while the department was busy at multiple fires.

    The Honolulu Fire Department went into Level 3 Tuesday, meaning more than 50 percent of all firefighters were actively fighting fires.

    There were brush fires at Iroquois Point, Waianae and at the Hawaii Metal Recycling Plant at the same time as the Waipahu building fire.

    Firefighters arrived at 94-241 Aniani Place to find flames wrapping the two-story apartment building. The apartment building was made out of a wooden frame.

    Residents and nearby neighbors said fireworks thrown into dry grass started the fire.

    "I saw the kids that played with the fireworks and they were running in and running out," building manager Tavita Tuaau said.

    The fire destroyed all eight units in the building. Fire officials said the building and its contents were a total loss.

    "I was doing laundry and I smelled smoke and I ran and told my mom. We called and called 911 like 10 times and no one showed until about 15 minutes later," resident To Famamao said.

    HFD reports it got the call at 11:42 a.m. and was on scene at 11:49 a.m.

    "Sadly all the people have been displaced as a result of it," HFD Capt. Emmit Kane said.

    Firefighters were at the same location Monday, putting out a grass fire behind the building that was also started by fireworks.

    Some of the displaced residents said they will stay with family. Others are not sure where they'll go. The Red Cross has begun helping the families.

    Copyright 2005 by TheHawaiiChannel.com

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A Montgomery firefighter is recovering
    from an injury to his eyes caused by a fireworks rocket that went
    off inside a mortar tube as he tried to light it during an
    Independence Day celebration.
    Rodney Perdue, a licensed pyrotechnician, was released from a
    hospital late Monday, said fire Chief David Thomas of the
    Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department.
    The incident occurred about halfway into a 20-minute fireworks
    show Monday at West Virginia University Institute of Technology.
    "It caused a flash burn to his eyes, just like a welding
    flash," Thomas said. "They're checking his hearing, and he has
    some partial sight loss, but they feel like it's going to come
    back. They don't expect long-term damage. It sounded a lot worse
    than what it wound up being."
    After Perdue was taken to a hospital, other firefighters
    continued igniting fireworks. When another rocket went off in a
    mortar tube like the one that injured Perdue, the rest of the show
    was canceled, Thomas said.
    "We know we got some bad fireworks," he said. "Everything we
    were doing was by the book. All our guys were wearing safety
    glasses and their bunker gear."
    Information from: The Charleston Gazette,

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    This is the thread that began the discussion. Chief Donovan never replied on these forums.

    Selling fireworks

    Leave a comment:

  • Tooanfrom
    Information please.

    Can anyone tell me the location of the dungeon that this so called "Chief" was being held, when not realising that fireworks cause some (not all)fires?

    Where on earth has this retard been hiding?

    And if he is a "Chief" what is the rest of his crews like?

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    MILL CREEK, Wash. (AP) - Fireworks were blamed for an apartment
    fire Sunday morning that left 14 people homeless.
    All the residents safely escaped the burning building, said
    Leslie Hynes of Snohomish Fire District I.
    Damage was estimated at $550,000.
    The blaze at the Millwood Estates destroyed three apartments and
    damaged five others.
    Hynes said she believes someone shot an illegal firework from a
    nearby property. It landed on a sofa that had been stored outside
    the apartment building, starting the blaze.
    The occupants of the three destroyed units had no insurance.

    Information from: KING-TV, http://www.king5.com/

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Fireworks may be to blame for a fire that
    caused heavy damage to a Shreveport home.
    The fire broke out just before 6 p.m. Sunday.
    Resident Mattie Conroe said something crashed through her window
    and landed behind her couch. Then smoke began filling her living
    "I couldn't see it so I moved the couch. There was all this
    smoke. I was calling for my daughter to grab some water. I was
    trying to put it out but I couldn't," Conroe said.
    She said the object appeared to be some type of firecracker.
    Fire District Chief David Dice explained that firecrackers burn
    very hot, and cause flames to ignite quickly.
    The fire spread quickly through Conroe's rented residence.
    "They had almost no insurance on the contents of the house,"
    Dice said.
    Dice added that it was the second such fire in two nights.
    "Last night in the house across the street they had a firework
    thrown in the house through a window," he said. He said children
    in the area had been playing with fireworks over the weekend.
    No arrests have been reported.
    Information from The (Shreveport) Times, KSLA-TV, KTBS-TV

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) - Two people escaped injury from a house fire
    early this morning in Norfolk and fireworks are suspected as the
    Officials say the fire caused more than 100-thousand dollars in
    The Norfolk Fire Division said fire fighters found the roof of
    the home and the garage fully engulfed in flames when they arrived.
    A spokesman for the fire division says fireworks being shot in
    the neighborhood probably caused the blaze.

    (Thanks Bill Seifert, KNEN, Norfolk)

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    Illegal fireworks blamed for Rowley fire

    ROWLEY, Mass. (AP) - Illegal fireworks are being blamed for a
    fire that destroyed a boat and severely damaged a home in Rowley.
    State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan says the fire on Arthur Gordon
    Drive was first reported at about 11:30 last night.
    Investigators found debris from large quantities of expended
    fireworks throughout the neighborhood.
    Interviews revealed that two neighborhood residents were setting
    off illegal fireworks just prior to the fire.
    Several hundred dollars worth of unused fireworks were
    Coan says the residents of the burned house were NOT at home at
    the time of the fire. No injuries were reported.
    Investigators will meet with prosecutors tomorrow to discuss
    possible charges.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    Fireworks spark grass fire in Manzano Mountains

    MANZANO, N.M. (AP) - A fire burning in grass and juniper in the
    Manzano Mountains has been contained.
    Authorities say a boy admitted to playing with the fireworks
    that likely sparked the fire just south of the village of Manzano
    The fire burned approximately nine acres.
    A fire information officer says the Forest Service and several
    volunteer fire departments responded.
    The fire burned all the way around one structure but it never
    caught fire.

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) - Fireworks has sparked two fires in
    Farmington this weekend, causing the evacuation of several
    neighborhoods and severe damage to a home.
    Ruth Zaler says she was evacuated from her home after a fire
    started in the empty lot next to her house.
    She says she heard a firecracker and a whoosh and then heard the
    crackle of some branches on fire.
    Farmington Fire Marshall Herb Veazy says he believes the fire
    was started by kids.
    He says the blaze burned at least two acres of brush and
    scorched two homes, one severely, and a workshed.
    About an hour later, a second fire came dangerously close to
    burning homes in another part of town.
    Veazy says the second fire was caused by fireworks and burned
    about three acres of brush.
    No one was injured in either fire.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    Continuing the theme..........

    PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) - The Pawtucket Red Sox canceled a New
    Hampshire company's July 4 fireworks display at McCoy Stadium after
    several people suffered burns and other injuries during a similar
    post-game show a day earlier.
    Two fans were injured when they tripped and fell while trying to
    run away, police said.
    Officials said a fireworks shell apparently exploded as soon as
    it came out of its tube, shooting sideways and triggering a "chain
    reaction" of sparks, which ignited other fireworks on the ground.
    "They all started going off all at once," Battalion Fire Chief
    Michael Carter said Monday.
    The fireworks exploded in multiple directions, with sparks
    hitting a scoreboard and setting fire to some bushes outside the
    stadium, Carter said.
    At least six people were treated for minor injuries, including
    several workers who suffered minor burns while standing near the
    The fireworks were part of Independence Day celebrations at the
    Triple A stadium, and had been staged without incident Saturday
    night. They were canceled Monday "in the interest of public
    safety," according to the team's Web site.
    "We just felt it would be inappropriate to go right in and do
    another show the very next night" until an investigation could be
    completed, Bill Wanless, the team's vice president of public
    relations, said Monday.
    Four of the injured were employees of Telstar Display Fireworks
    of Jaffrey, N.H., said Police Maj. John Whiting in a news release.
    He said they were helping set off the fireworks, which were being
    launched from a parking lot behind right field. They were treated
    for minor burns.
    Two fans in a fireworks viewing area also suffered minor
    injuries. Whiting said they tripped and fell as they tried to run
    The city's police and fire departments are investigating the
    accident along with the state Fire Marshal's Office.
    Monday's Red Sox game against the Charlotte Knights was
    scheduled to go on as planned, with Curt Schilling expected to make
    a rehabilitative start for Pawtucket.
    The Official Site of Minor League Baseball web site includes features, news, rosters, statistics, schedules, teams, live game radio broadcasts, and video clips.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    Leave a comment:

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