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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Monday, July 1, 2019
Contact: Stephanie Collins

ATF Encourages West Virginia Residents to Safely Celebrate Fourth of July

LOUISVILLE, Ky.  – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Louisville Division reminds the public, whether attending community fireworks displays or celebrating with backyard fireworks, to exercise caution when dealing with fireworks.

“Each year, injuries and even deaths are caused by the misuse of fireworks or by handling improvised or homemade explosive devices,” stated ATF Louisville Division Special Agent in Charge Stuart Lowrey. “ATF encourages you to have a safe Fourth of July celebration by being an informed consumer and following 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, 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 area to find out what is allowed.

Further, ATF would like to remind the public that illegal or improperly used fireworks can cause severe injuries or even death. According to the CPSC, 121 fireworks-related deaths were reported between 2003 and 2018. In addition, there were an estimated 9,100 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in the United States last year. The majority occurred 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.
  • Always wear safety glasses, light one firework at a time and 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.
  • 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 not intended or designed to be used.

To better ensure a safe and happy Fourth of July, the public is encouraged to enjoy the fireworks shows conducted by licensed professionals. 

The public is urged to report the use or sale of illegal fireworks or explosive devices to the West Virginia State Fire Marshal or 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 fireworks recalls: https://www.cpsc.gov/.

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Louisville Field Division