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West Hartford Fire Department: Leave Fireworks Displays to Licensed Professionals

Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

The West Hartford Fire Department has issued a public service announcement to the community with a warning about the dangers of fireworks.

By Ronni Newton

As the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, first responders in West Hartford are gearing up for reports of illegal fireworks displays, and are cautioning the community to follow fire safety regulations.

People ages 16 and up are permitted to use sparklers or fountains, which are sold in local grocery stores and big box stores. Anything else – items that emit flame or become airborne – is being sold, or used, illegally.

“Please leave fireworks displays to licensed professionals using regulated products while following fire safety regulations,” Fire Inspector Marsha Adell said in a public service announcement on Thursday. “House fires, grass fires, injuries, and even death can be attributed to the misuse and handing of fireworks – especially those that are not governed. In using sparklers for personal use, it is critical that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and always remember that even sparklers can cause serious injuries and significant damage to property. These precautions must also be followed closely to avoid a catastrophe.”

Instructions provided for the safe use of sparklers include:

  • Keep 30 feet away from structures and people when using showering sparklers.
  • Never allow children to handle sparklers.
  • Only light a device one time and only light them outside.
  • Remember that the metal sticks on sparklers get red hot and can cause severe burns.
  • Keep a bucket of water close by to dunk sparklers in immediately after they’ve been used.

While the number of complaints regarding fireworks received by emergency dispatchers this year is not at the level of 2020 – when Police Chief Vernon Riddick reported 122 complaints between June 1 and June 28 – there have been numerous complaints fielded by the West Hartford Fire Department through the Fire Marshal’s Office and the Police Department regarding fireworks.

“Collectively, we want our neighbors to know and understand that, in the state of Connecticut, all fireworks are illegal. Section 29-357 (a) of the Connecticut General Statutes prohibits the sale, possession with intent to sell, and use or exploding any fireworks in the State of Connecticut and section 128-3 of the West Hartford Code of Ordinances prohibits the use fireworks on property owned by the town’s park and recreation department. A violation of state laws and local ordinances may result in criminal charges and with prosecution, may include fines and jail time,” Adell said.

Not only are fireworks potentially dangerous or harmful, but they can startle young children and pets – as well as veterans who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), survivors of gun violence, and individuals who have experienced a brain injury, are on the autism spectrum, or who have a neurological disorder.

West Hartford resident Philippa Courtney-Fiske shared with We-Ha.com an article written by , an associate professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University who specializes in stress and trauma.

“For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That’s because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system,” Javanbakht wrote in his article, the complete text of which can be found here.

“Ensure everyone’s safety and extend common courtesy by not using fireworks at all,” Adell said. “The safest way to enjoy this year’s Independence Day celebration is to view a display conducted at a state approved site by Connecticut licensed pyro technicians.”

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