Submitted by PWCDFR
A chicken is exploded during the recent Light It Write demonstration behind Pfitzner Stadium.
An M-80 firecracker can blow a watermelon to smithereens; a chicken from the grocery store doesn’t stand a chance against the explosive either. The destructive power of such fireworks was recently demonstrated during a press conference held behind G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium.
Explosive fireworks are illegal in Virginia and Prince William Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee said the Prince William County Fire Marshal’s office will be out issuing tickets this year to people using illegal fireworks. “You Light It, We’ll Write It,” McGee said, citing this year’s fireworks safety campaign slogan.
Prince William County fire marshals and police officers will be patrolling the county looking for and confiscating illegal fireworks, McGee said. In Virginia, the use of illegal fireworks is a Class I misdemeanor and anyone charged with the offense must appear in court and face fines of up to $2,500 and up to one year of jail time.
Representatives from fire and rescue departments from across the region came to the demonstration to show support for the campaign, including Manassas Fire and Rescue Chief Brett Bowman.
Bowman told the crowd of about 50 who came to see the demonstration that legal fireworks can be dangerous, as well, and urged people to use caution. A demonstration with sparklers and fountain fireworks, which are legal in Virginia, showed that those fireworks could ignite clothes on mannequins in a matter seconds.
Bowman said emergency rooms across the nation reported an estimated 6,800 for fireworks-related injuries in 2010. “Each July Fourth, thousands of people, often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. The risk of fireworks injuries is highest for children ages five to 19 and adults 25 to 44.”
Data from the National Fire Protection Association showed that the improper use of legal fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 structure fires nationally in 2010, with an estimated $36 million in property loss, Bowman said. The improper use of fireworks resulted in an estimated 100 vehicle fires and roughly 14,100 outside fires that caused eight deaths in 2010.
Bowman said the area’s fire and rescue departments were committed to preventing injuries during the summer holidays. “Please remember this campaign is about protecting life and property as we celebrate with our families and friends. Our goal is zero injuries and deaths from use of fireworks in the Metropolitan Region. Preventing the 9-1-1 call before it happens is our ultimate goal.”
After the demonstration, McGee reminded people about the “Thrill of the Grill, Keep it Safe and You Won’t Get Burned,” a second campaign that fire and rescue departments across the region are promoting. “As we enter into the prime grilling months, we need to be sure we use safe grilling practices.”
McGee stressed that grills should be kept at least 15 feet away from any structure including deck railings eaves. A charcoal fire can melt and ignite siding in less than 60 seconds. Charcoal grills caused an estimated 1,200 home fires nationwide between 2006 and 2010. Gas grills caused an estimated 7,100 home fires during the same period.
McGee also cautioned people to be safe with lighter fluid. He said people should use only charcoal lighter fluid to get grill fires going and should never squirt any kind flammable liquid onto a fire that is already burning.
For more information and safety tips about fireworks and grilling, visit www.pwcgov.org/fire.