Illegal Fireworks Not Worth The Risk

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As the celebration of our nation's independence grows near, along with it comes the use of illegal fireworks. One only needs to watch the local news, or pick up a newspaper to see the headlines about wildfires that are burning throughout our state.

The Payson Fire Department is asking local residents to refrain from using fireworks of any kind during the Fourth of July holiday, or any other time of year. Weeds, dead brush and dry conditions have put the Payson area at risk for a wildfire. Careless use of fireworks, which are illegal in Arizona, could set off a catastrophic fire that would quickly spread. The Payson police and fire departments will be extra vigilant, and will respond quickly to any reports of illegal fireworks. Please contact the Payson Police Department to report any illegal fireworks activities.

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Marty deMasi, Fire chief, Payson Fire Department

While we are on the subject of weeds, now is the time to remove weeds and dead brush from your property -- not when a fire is approaching. It seems that some residents still refuse to accept their responsibilities as a homeowner and property owner, and refuse to maintain their properties to lessen the risk to not only their homes, but to their neighborhoods as well. Please remember that in the event of a fire, there could be serious legal repercussions if you fail to maintain your property free from weeds and other combustibles. If you need help choosing a contractor to clean your property, the Payson Fire Department has a list of local contractors who specialize in fire wise landscaping available. Please remember that we cannot recommend a particular contractor.

The Town of Payson is sponsoring a fireworks show at Green Valley Park on the evening of July 4. The show begins around 9 p.m., so get there early to get a spot where you can safely enjoy a grand fireworks show to celebrate our nation's independence.

Here are some statistics regarding fireworks and their dangers from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • In 2002, an estimated 3,000 reported structure or vehicle fires were started by fireworks. These resulted in no deaths, 60 injuries and $29 million in direct property damage.
  • In 2003, 9,300 people were treated at hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. Burns were the leading type of fireworks injury (63 percent). Contusions and lacerations were second (18 percent), and were equal in share to burns when the injury was to any part of the head or face, including the eye. Hands or fingers were the part of the body injured in 26 percent of the incidents. In 20 percent of the cases, the eye was involved, and other parts of the face or head accounted for 17 percent of the injuries.
  • Pre-teens and teenagers face the highest risk of fireworks injuries. In 2003, 60 percent of people injured by fireworks were under the age of 20, with 45 percent of the injuries incurred by those under age 15. The highest injury rate relative to population was for ages 5 to 9, with 8.9 times the risk for the entire population.
  • Males accounted for nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of fireworks injuries.
  • From 1997 to 2001, an annual average of eight people were killed in fires started by fireworks. An annual average of seven people were killed directly by fireworks.
  • In 2002, fires started by fireworks caused $26 million in direct property damage to structures. Fireworks-related fires have caused roughly $20 million in property loss to structures per year in inflation-adjusted dollars in the past decade.
  • Based on the amount of time and quantities in use, fireworks pose a higher risk of fire death than any other consumer product. Although cigarettes are the leading cause of fire death, the risk that someone will die from fire when fireworks are being used is three times the corresponding risk than when cigarettes are burning.
  • On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks cause more outdoor fires in the United States than all other causes of outdoor fire combined.
  • The state of Arizona has banned the use of fireworks by consumers.

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