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Missouri Fire Marshal Warns Against Unlicensed Fireworks

Sparklers are the number-one cause of firework-related burns in children under age 5. (John Paul Tyrone Fernandez/Pexels)
Sparklers are the number-one cause of firework-related burns in children under age 5. (John Paul Tyrone Fernandez/Pexels)
July 1, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Fourth of July is only three days away, and the state fire marshal is pleading with people to take common-sense measures to avoid injuries and spot fires.

The biggest piece of advice is to make sure if you buy fireworks for personal use in Missouri, they are legal - that is, sold by vendors who have one of the 1,255 permits issued by the state this year. Missouri State Fire Marshal Tim Bean said you have the right to ask to see any vendor's permit.

"If you find somebody that is selling fireworks out of the back of a van or a box truck, I would be suspicious of that,” Bean said.

A number of communities restrict or ban personal use of fireworks, including Columbia, Springfield and St. Louis, so check your local laws. Also, the feds recently issued four separate recalls for close to 38,000 Chinese-made fireworks, saying they are overloaded with pyrotechnics. Find out more on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Missouri has no laws about how old you have to be to handle fireworks, but Bean said children should be especially careful, particularly with sparklers. They burn at more than 1,000 degrees, and cause the most injuries, especially to children under age five.

"When they sparkle, they have a spray that comes off of 'em and a lot of times, the kids freaks out,” he said. “Or they grab it after it goes out, and the metal is still hot and they get a hand burn from that."

Federal statistics show that in 2018, 9,100 people ended up in the emergency room with injuries from fireworks. One 18-year-old man died after launching a mortar from a tube on top of his head.

One piece of good news: Bean said the fire risk from dry brush is down this year, because the state has been inundated with rain.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MO