Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

June 29, 2010

Prepared Remarks by
Assistant Director Arthur Herbert
Enforcement Programs and Services
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
Annual Fireworks Safety Press Conference and Demonstration
National Mall
June 29, 2010
10 A.M.

Assistant Director Arthur Herbert speaking at the annual fireworks safety press conference and demonstration

Good morning. Thank you, Chairman Tenebaum, and CPSC for sponsoring this event which brings us together today. ATF is committed to protecting the public by finding and stopping those who endanger our communities by illegally making and selling explosive devices. We want to inform consumers of the perils involved with improperly using legal fireworks, as well as those associated with making or using illegal explosive devices, like homemade fireworks. These improvised explosive devices can injure, maim and even cause death.

Each year, especially leading up to Independence Day, accidents occur due to the misuse of fireworks, or by people making homemade fireworks. These injuries can have life-long effects. Many can be avoided with proper awareness and by obeying the law.Consumers should recognize the obvious differences between products made for consumer use; those made for use by trained professionals; and illegal explosive devices.

Consumers should recognize the obvious differences between products made for consumer use; those made for use by trained professionals; and illegal explosive devices.

Legal consumer fireworks are marked with brightly colored paper and include a trade name and manufacturing information. Professional-grade display fireworks are generally larger cylindrical, or ball-shaped, shells wrapped in brown paper with manufacturer markings.

ATF works with the fireworks industry and pyrotechnic associations to promote public safety. Legitimate fireworks manufacturers and distributors take precautions. These precautions enhance your personal safety and the safety of the workers who produce and handle the fireworks. These precautions enhance the safety of the communities in which makers of explosives manufacture or use fireworks.

Anyone wanting to make, distribute and receive display fireworks is required to obtain a federal explosives permit or federal explosives license. Last week, a federal grand jury indicted a Maryland resident for selling display fireworks to individuals who were not licensed to purchase them. These individuals illegally resold the fireworks. Dealing in explosives materials without authorization by ATF is illegal and dangerous!

Illegal explosive devices — commonly referred to as M-80s, quarter sticks, or cherry bombs — are often packaged in brown, silver or red tubes, with no identifying marks and green, waxy fuses. Because they meet neither safety nor quality standards, they are extremely dangerous.

Unfortunately, we have illegal explosives manufacturers operating in our communities. These illegal makers of harmful devices endanger themselves and the communities where they carry out their illegal activities. The possibility of an accidental explosion or fire while making these explosives devices is ever present.

You may observe explosive devices and display fireworks illegally sold from roadside stands that sell consumer fireworks. Be an informed consumer. Know the difference before purchasing fireworks. If you become aware of an illegal manufacturing operation, or observe people selling devices or fireworks illegally, immediately report the illegal activity to your local law enforcement officials or to ATF. Help us enjoy the holiday events by reporting those who jeopardize our safety.

If you choose to enjoy consumer fireworks, be careful. Always supervise children, and adhere to federal, state and local laws, regulations, and ordnances. The consequences of not following this guidance can be severe.

Jason Henderson joins ATF this year in making a public service announcement about fireworks safety. Jason has a compelling story. Jason learned the consequences of making illegal explosive devices. He made several illegal fireworks without hurting himself. Jason’s last batch exploded without warning and caused permanent injuries. We credit Jason for his courage to share his story with you.

ATF will continue to partner with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, state and local fire service, law enforcement agencies and the fireworks industry in order to get the message out: Enjoy the show. Don’t be the show.

Enjoy your summer and have a safe Fourth of July! Thank you.