First responders explain dangers of illegal fireworks ahead of July 4th

With July 4th just a week away, state and local first responders are calling on the public to “leave fireworks to the professionals.”
Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 5:16 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2023 at 6:24 PM EDT
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LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - With July 4th just a week away, state and local first responders are calling on the public to “leave fireworks to the professionals.”

Last year alone, the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services reported a total of 106 fires and explosions resulting from illegal fireworks. More than half of those happened during the 4th of July weekend. This year, they are hoping it will be different.

Massachusetts is the only state in the country where the possession, use, and sale of fireworks is illegal. It has been like this for the past three years in an attempt to prevent injuries from happening, not only to residents, but also first responders.

Western Mass News spoke to Longmeadow Deputy Fire Chief John Rigney, who said that the level of danger from fireworks, no matter how big or small, is greater than people may think.

“Some of the temperatures that they can get up to are in the upwards of 1,800 degrees,” said Deputy Chief Rigney. “Those are even sparklers that can carry those high temperatures, and they can cause significant burns to the people if they’re not trained.”

According to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, firefighters have tended to 979 fires and explosions involving illegal fireworks in the past 10 years. In that same time, they have treated more than a dozen people for severe burn injuries.

Anyone in possession or using fireworks under the Massachusetts fireworks law could face fines of up to $100, while anyone selling fireworks without a license could face fines of up to $1,000, and in some cases, even prison.

First responders are trained to tend to all emergencies, but Deputy Chief Rigney told us that this call to action is also an effort to prevent all injuries that can come with fireworks.

“The issue that comes with fireworks is, sometimes, there’s also blast injuries, which is not a frequent call that we go to,” he said. “We are trained to treat all patients with all injuries, but those can cause some significant damage. So, it is something that we would like to see people avoid in using fireworks because of the danger with them.”

If you want to enjoy professional fireworks displays across western Massachusetts and the entire state, you can find an updated list of where and when those will be taking place in the state’s website,