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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives


Contacts: Sheree L. Mixell

Donna Sellers


Immediate Release

July 2, 2004



WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reminds everyone, whether attending community fireworks displays or celebrating with backyard fireworks, that fireworks can cause severe injuries, and even death.

Independence Day is fast approaching and Americans are gearing up for patriotic and festive celebrations. The American Pyrotechnics Association, the leading trade association of the fireworks industry, says that fireworks sales this year are expected to surpass last year’s record as more Americans plan to celebrate the holiday with backyard fireworks. APA attributes the record sales to an upsurge in patriotism and the historical symbolism of fireworks and American independence and national pride.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency that regulates consumer fireworks, reported that 9,300 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries attributed to fireworks in 2003, with about two-thirds of these injuries occurring in the weeks immediately preceding and following Independence Day.

Consumers should be aware of the dangers of fireworks and exercise caution when using them. ATF particularly wants consumers to know the dangers of illegal fireworks. Illegal fireworks include cherry bombs, M-80s, M-1000s, silver salutes and large firecrackers containing more than two grains of powder. These kinds of explosives devices are banned federally in every state regardless of varying state safety statutes. Mail-order kits designed to build these fireworks also are banned. These explosives devices are not fireworks. They can explode without warning, causing injury or death.

ATF Director Carl J. Truscott said, "Have a fun, safe and injury-free Fourth of July; and help make it safe for everyone. Report the use of illegal fireworks or other explosives."

The sale of illegal explosives devices to American consumers is prohibited under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Although they may be represented as "fireworks," they are in fact small bombs. The manufacturing of these illegal fireworks can result in federal felony and misdemeanor charges, as well as time in federal prison.

Although illegal fireworks can cause injuries or even death, consumers should be aware that legal fireworks also can be dangerous. Injuries to children under the age of 15 accounted for nearly half of reported injuries in 2003, according to CPSC’s “2003 Fireworks Annual Report.”

ATF actively works with other federal law enforcement agencies and the CPSC through its fireworks enforcement program to prevent millions of hazardous and illegal fireworks from reaching American consumers. ATF asks consumers to be vigilant in observing their surroundings no matter where they may celebrate Independence Day.

Report suspicious activity involving illegal fireworks or explosives to local authorities or to ATF at: 1-800-ATF-BOMB. For more information on ATF visit ATF’s Web site at