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State Fire Marshal: Celebrate Safely and Legally with Fireworks This Fourth of July

With the Fourth of July upon us, it’s important to remember that safety should be a top priority when celebrating with fireworks. New Hampshire State Fire Marshal Sean P. Toomey and Chief David Emanuel, President of the NH Association of Fire Chiefs, urge residents to celebrate responsibly and with extreme vigilance.

Public Fireworks Displays: The Safest Option

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is by attending a public display sponsored by your local community or other organizations. These displays are set up and shown by trained, licensed professional pyrotechnicians and inspected by public safety officials to ensure they meet all safety standards.

Using Consumer Fireworks Safely

If you choose to celebrate with permissible fireworks (those legal consumer devices sold in New Hampshire licensed retail stores), follow these fireworks safety guidelines to protect yourself, your family, and your property:

Check Local Regulations: Contact your local fire department to ensure fireworks are allowed in your community and to check for any specific restrictions or guidelines.

Set Boundaries and Supervise: Only adults 21 years of age or older are legally allowed to purchase, possess, and display permissible fireworks. Ensure fireworks are stored securely and out of children’s reach. Supervision is crucial to prevent accidents, as even sparklers can cause significant injury, burning at temperatures over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. For context, most adults will suffer third-degree burns if exposed to 150 degree water for two seconds, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Follow The Three B’s

1.    Be Prepared:

  • Purchase only the amount of fireworks you will use.
  • Display fireworks only on your property or with written permission from the landowner.
  • Have a water hose, bucket of water, or fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Create a clear, level surface away from flammable materials.
  • Check the daily forest fire weather forecast and avoid lighting fireworks in dry, windy conditions.

2.    Be Safe:

  • Adults should wear eye and hearing protection, as well as gloves.
  • Follow the safety directions on each firework device.
  • Light one device at a time and move away quickly.
  • Keep spectators at a safe distance.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors in open spaces, away from buildings, dry grass, or other flammable materials.
  • Be considerate of your neighbors, pets, and the environment.

3.    Be Responsible:

  • Clean up all debris after your fireworks display.
  • If a firework does not ignite, wait at least 15 minutes before handling, then soak it in water.
  • Secure unused fireworks, matches, and lighters to prevent access by children.

State Law Requirements

State law requires anyone who buys, possesses, or uses fireworks to be at least 21 years old, and any local ordinances or restrictions must be followed. Report illegal fireworks use by calling your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency dispatch. Only call 9-1-1 in an emergency. See our Fireworks FAQ for more information.

Class C Consumer Fireworks and Display Fireworks

  • Class C, Consumer Fireworks: Legal, except those prohibited pursuant to RSA 160-B:16. These can be purchased at licensed retail stores throughout the state. Permissible fireworks are also known as Consumer Fireworks, and the terms are used interchangeably.
  • Display Fireworks: Used only by licensed professionals (pyrotechnicians) and include aerial shells, cakes, candles, and other display pieces that exceed the limits for consumer fireworks. Retail stores that do not have a license to sell New Hampshire-approved permissible fireworks can sell unregulated consumer fireworks classified as novelties, such as sparklers, party poppers, snakes, and snappers.

Fireworks Usage Restrictions

  • Fireworks may only be used on private property that you own, or with written permission from the landowner, or in the owner’s presence, except where fireworks are locally prohibited.
  • Prohibited locations for using consumer fireworks include New Hampshire beaches, parks, campgrounds, and State and Federal forest lands.
  • Using fireworks where prohibited can result in civil liability for damages to another’s property.
  • The use of unmanned, free-floating sky lanterns and similar devices using an open flame is illegal in New Hampshire. Tethered or anchored sky lanterns are allowed.

How to Safely Enjoy Fireworks

  • Read and follow all directions, caution labels, and warning labels on each individual firework device.
  • Never allow children to handle, play with, and/or light any type of fireworks.
  • Do not consume alcohol while handling fireworks.
  • Be cautious of lighting aerial devices during high wind conditions.

Always:

  • Display fireworks in a clear, open area that is free of overhead objects.
  • Provide for a safe distance between buildings and any viewing audience.
  • Ignite one device at a time.
  • Have a form of fire suppression nearby (fire extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water).
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place and dispose of them properly.

Never:

  • Extend any part of your body over the top of any device.
  • Attempt to reignite, alter, or fix any fireworks device that has failed to fire.
  • Aim, point, throw, or shoot fireworks at another person.

Fireworks Safety: A Shared Responsibility

Fire Marshal Toomey emphasizes, “Fireworks are explosive devices and can be dangerous and unpredictable. Let’s have a safe and happy Fourth of July by taking all necessary precautions when enjoying them.” Our video Public Service Announcement (PSA) can be found on our Facebook page @NHFMO and website.

Chief Emanuel adds, “Structure fire property loss can occur due to fireworks, especially those involving rockets that can land on rooftops and cause fires. We encourage people to consider watching a local display in their community, rather than take this risk. For information about community fireworks displays, contact your local fire department.”

Conclusion
To celebrate safely this Fourth of July, “Be Prepared,” “Be Safe,” and “Be Responsible” when using permissible consumer fireworks.

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