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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

ATF News
For Immediate Release:
Neeta Sullivan

30, 2000

Fireworks Safety Tips

- Safety tips from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
ATF regulates explosives and investigates explosives crimes.

  • Fireworks laws
    and ordinances vary from state to state. Get the facts from your fire
    department, police, or sheriff.
  • Legal fireworks
    businesses are open to local, state, and federal inspectors. Items should
    be clearly marked Class-C common fireworks, list the maker, and come
    with instructions for safe use.
  • Traffickers of
    illegal explosive devices try to avoid police. Items they sell meet
    no safety standards and sometimes explode spontaneously.
  • Consider all explosive
    materials hazardous, including fireworks. Each year thousands of injuries
    are linked to fireworks.
  • Children and fireworks
    can be a volatile mix. Adults should supervise.
  • Light one firework
    at a time, then move to a safe distance.
  • Only light fireworks
    outdoors in a clear area away from anything that might catch fire. Keep
    water handy.
  • Douse fireworks
    that fizzle with water. Don’t relight. Soak leftover items and discard
  • Store fireworks
    in a cool, dry place not accessible to youngsters. Avoid rough handling.
  • Avoid trouble and

- Never light fireworks
in bottles, cans.

- Never cut or take
apart fireworks.

- Never add ingredients
to fireworks.

Legal Fireworks

Class-C common fireworks
regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and are
legal only when permitted by state law
. Class-C fireworks produce
small, visible effects and contain less than two grains of a pyrotechnic
composition (7,000 grains per pound). The words "Class-C common fireworks"
and the maker’s name must be visible on each package.

Illegal Explosive

Illegal devices are
not fireworks. Illegal devices are small bombs that maim, blind,
and kill.

Some street names
for the devices are M-80, ashcan, cherry-bomb, silver salute, quarterstick,
M-100 and M-1000. Traffickers sell the devices to unwary buyers.

Explosive material
in illegal devices exceeds the limit for common fireworks. The devices
do not meet any quality standards and can explode due to heat, friction,
or pressure. Some production sites discovered by ATF agents are so polluted
with volatile chemicals they cannot be cleaned up and have to be burned.

People trafficking
in illegal devices can go to Federal prison for 10 years. Some have been
tried for murder.

For more information
on ATF, visit the ATF Web site at