National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Report: A Fourth of July to remember

by Amanda McHenry
Program Assistant, National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System

According to National Fire Protection Assocation (NFPA), more than 2,000 building and vehicle fires will be caused by fireworks, making July 4th the busiest day of the year for firefighters. The fire service is also busy on the EMS side of the house. In 2006, 9,200 people were injured as a result of mishandling fireworks or fireworks that malfunctioned. www.firefighternearmiss.com contains 5 other reports that mention July 4th. Five states ban fireworks and the rest permit their use in varying degrees. Even departments operating in jurisdictions that ban fireworks should be on guard for incidents involving fireworks.

An excerpt from one report:


We responded to a working residential house fire that was caused by children playing with fireworks that are illegal in this state. Fire quickly spread to the attic&Occupants were on vacation as this was the 4th of July weekend&we were instructed to provide vertical ventilation. Time in the incident was about 20 minutes. I completed the cut with a power saw and was preparing to exit the roof when I saw 2 members of my crew (the captain and other driver) fall through the roof sheathing and into the well involved attic. I attempted to rescue both&I too, fell into the well involved attic. I became trapped for approximately 7 seconds in heat and fire that was approximately 2000 degrees&”

CLICK HERE to read a report that recounts a harrowing experience for three members of a roof ventilation team. Because the likelihood of a fire goes up on July 4th due to the misuse of fireworks, our risk assessment skills need to be sharper than ever. Consider the following:

1. What are the local jurisdiction’s rules governing fireworks in your area?
2. Who is responsible for enforcing fireworks’ laws in your jurisdiction?
3. Have you ever responded to a fireworks related injury that was not preventable?
4. How are fireworks injury incidents handled in your jurisdiction?
5. Does your department participate in any pre-July 4th public safety message programs?

Been involved in a fireworks related near miss while on duty? Tell your story to the rest of the fire service by filing a report with www.firefighternearmiss.com.

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