Fire safety on the Fourth

Make any lesson you give to members of your community personal

By Tom Kiurski   

The Fourth of July celebration is synonymous with fireworks displays. You see the roadside stands displaying fireworks, they are in some of the stores you shop at, and they are fairly easy to obtain over the Internet.

The downside is we have more fires on this date than on any other day of the year — meaning it's vital we work to make our community safer during this holiday.

Through whatever avenue you have available, promote the professional fireworks displays in your area. The absolute best way to avoid fireworks fires and injuries is to attend a public display.

State laws vary as to what fireworks are legal, so do some research and find answers to questions that may be asked on this subject before going out in front of your community and speaking about the subject.

However, keep in mind — and stress to your audience — that just because a firework is legal, it does not mean that it cannot cause injury. The tip of a common sparkler (a legal firework in most states) can reach temperatures of more than 1200 F. Just a touch of it against the skin can cause a painful burn injury.

Make any lesson you give to members of your community personal. When speaking about fireworks, tell the audience about a fire or two in your district that was caused by fireworks.

This can drive the message home in a more personal way than using national statistics. I use the story of some kids who once tried to scare their friend by aiming bottle rockets at his bedroom window.

One rocket entered through the bedroom window, and started a fire that caused the family to live elsewhere while the damage was repaired. It turned out that no one was home when they shot the fireworks.

We all know that illegal fireworks are going to be used in our community during the holiday. Warn your community of the associated dangers and work to promote the public fireworks displays in your area.

About the author

Tom Kiurski has been in the fire service since 1981. He is the Training Coordinator and Director of Fire Safety Education for Livonia, Mich., Fire & Rescue. He has served as a firefighter/paramedic, engineer and lieutenant prior to his appointment as the training coordinator. He has earned an Associates Degree in Fire Science from Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich., a Bachelors Degree in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology from the University of Cincinnati and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University. Tom teaches fire service-related courses at local colleges and fire academies. He has presented at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis seven times, as well as numerous state and local conferences. He has written more than 300 articles on fire safety education and training that have appeared in various fire service publications. Contact Tom at

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