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June 22, 2021

Fire marshal: Fireworks pose extraordinary threats

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Virginia permits the private use of sparklers and ground-based foundations, but consumer fireworks that rise into the air, explode, travel laterally on the ground or emit projectiles violate state law.
Fauquier County Fire Marshal’s Office
Press Release

Fireworks are often used to mark special events and holidays. The only safe way to view fireworks is to attend a professional show.

As with every year, it is important to know that fireworks are not safe in the hands of consumers. Fireworks cause thousands of injuries each year.

Fauquier County’s only permitted aerial displays of fireworks related to Independence Day celebrations will take place:

• Friday, July 2, during the Town of Warrenton event at the WARF.

• Sunday, July 4, at Great Meadow near The Plains.

If you choose to purchase your own fireworks, the fire marshal’s office provides important information and a list of 2021 Approved Permissible Fireworks. If you choose to use fireworks, proceed with caution and follow these safety tips:

• Consumer fireworks, namely sparklers and ground based fountains, are legal to possess and use on private property. You should only purchase legal consumer fireworks from a local business or roadside stand possessing fireworks that are listed on the permissible fireworks list. These fireworks have been tested to ensure they meet the Consumer Products Safety Commission's requirements.

• Consumer fireworks that rise into the air, explode, travel laterally on the ground or emit projectiles are illegal to possess or use anywhere in Virginia. Possession and/or use of these or any fireworks or materials is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

• For backyard displays using legal consumer fireworks, wet down the area before use to prevent accidental fires. Ground based fireworks should be placed on open, stable, flat surfaces, keeping onlookers 20 feet from the display.

• Adult supervision is critical. Only competent adults should ignite and supervise the use of fireworks. Adults should supervise the use of sparklers as they burn at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees, hot enough to cause severe burns and ignite clothing. Keep children from running while using sparklers.

• Used fireworks should be placed in a metal container, soaked with water, and allowed to cool overnight in a location that is at least 15 feet away from any building or structure. Recheck the container in the morning to ensure nothing is smoldering, then properly dispose of the wet materials.

• Never pick up fireworks that were “duds” or did not fire, as they may still be active. Wait 20 minutes and treat as spent fireworks, soaking overnight and placing in a metal container with a lid, away from any structure.

Facts about fireworks

• Fireworks start more than 19,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires caused an average of five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and an average of $105 million in direct property damage.

• Fireworks were involved with an estimated 10,000 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2019. The estimated rate of fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in the United States is 3.1 per 100,000 individuals.

• Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 36 percent of the estimated fireworks-related injuries. Similar to last year, nearly half of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20.

Remember: Don’t take a chance being hurt or charged with illegal fireworks. If you are not sure call the Fauquier County Fire Marshal’s Office at 540-422-8823

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is illegal to possess, use, store, sale or handle any firework that explodes, rises into the air/travels laterally or fires projectiles into the air, unless you are a licensed pyrotechnician and are on the Virginia pyrotechnicians list.

Some of the fireworks considered illegal under that law include firecrackers, torpedoes, bottle rockets and mortars.

The offense for illegal fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

However, fireworks that stay on the ground — including pinwheels, fountains and sparklers — are legal in Virginia.

Have a safe and fun Fourth of July.
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