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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Thursday, July 2, 2020
Contact: Stephanie Collins

ATF Encourages Kentucky and West Virginia Residents to Safely Celebrate Fourth of July Holiday

LOUISVILLE, Ky.  – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Louisville Division reminds the public to exercise caution when dealing with fireworks during the July 4th holiday weekend. Each year, injuries and even deaths are caused by the misuse of fireworks or by handling improvised or homemade explosive devices.

“Due to the global pandemic, many community July 4th celebrations have been cancelled along with the customary evening fireworks displays,” stated ATF Louisville Division Special Agent in Charge, R. Shawn Morrow. “For that reason, more residents may be planning backyard fireworks displays. ATF encourages you to be an informed consumer and follow recommended safety practices when handling fireworks.’

As the federal law enforcement agency charged with enforcing federal explosives laws, ATF actively works with other federal agencies, such as the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) through its fireworks enforcement program, to prevent trafficking of illegal fireworks, which are technically classified as illegal explosive devices, which are commonly known as M-80s, M-100s, quarter sticks, cherry bombs, and silver salutes. While these items are sometimes referred to incorrectly as fireworks, they are not lawful for use by consumers.

Illegal explosive devices meet neither safety nor quality standards of legally manufactured consumer fireworks. Friction, heat, or impact can cause these devices to unintentionally explode. The manufacture, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of illegal explosive devices can result in federal felony and misdemeanor charges.

State and local fireworks laws and regulations differ from city to city. Before purchasing or using any fireworks, check with the authorities in your areas to find out what is allowed.

According to the CPSC, approximately 128 fireworks-related deaths have been reported between 2003 and 2019. In addition, there were an estimated 10,000 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries last year with the majority occurring between June 22 and July 22 with firecrackers being the number one cause of injuries.

ATF recommends the following safety practices when using consumer fireworks:

  • Consumer fireworks should be clearly marked and come with instructions for safe use – always read and follow directions on the label.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place not accessible for children to avoid rough handling
  • Always have an adult present when handling fireworks and never give fireworks to children, including sparklers which burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Always wear safety glasses and light one firework at a time - then move to a safe distance.
  • Never stand over fireworks while lighting and don’t attempt to relight malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks in bottles or cans, or use them in ways they are not intended.
  • Never cut or take apart fireworks, and never add ingredients to fireworks.
  • Keep water handy. Douse fireworks that fizzle with water. Soak leftover items in water to prevent a trash fire.
  • Never use fireworks in a manner that they were not intended or designed to be used.

The public is urged to report the use or sale of illegal fireworks or explosive devices by calling the toll-free ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-281-2662).

More information on ATF and its programs is at WWW.ATF.GOV

Additional information including recalls:


Louisville Field Division