Fireworks: Leave the big stuff to the pros
BY MIKE WARREN
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department has provided a fireworks permit to a Michigan-based company to conduct the city’s annual fireworks celebration, sponsored again by Festival Foods. No one else has received such a permit. That means, if your fireworks leave the ground or blow up, they’re illegal and subject to fines.
“What we’re trying to push is leave it up to the pros,” says Deputy Chief Jody Clements, Marshfield Fire and Rescue. “So, without a permit, the things that consumers can take on legally are sparklers, stationary cones, fountains, toy snakes, smoke bombs, caps, noise makers and confetti poppers. That’s pretty much the list – the only things that you can sell, possess and use without a permit in the state of Wisconsin,” Clements adds.
To simplify the matter, a written permit is required if a device (firework) explodes or leaves the ground. Per the Wisconsin Department of Justice, if a person is found in possession of, or uses a firework, that falls into the “permit required” category without a written and signed permit issued to them by their local jurisdiction, they can be subject to a $1,000 fine per violation. Each firework illegally possessed, used, or sold may be considered a separate violation.
Legal or not, Clements says fireworks of any kind can be very dangerous. He’s seen it all in his 30 years as a firefighter and paramedic.
“Some of the most traumatic scenes that we see are actually small injuries,” he said. “Sparklers are legal, but the thing that we commonly see, and we will get multiple times over the Fourth of July, is little kids getting burned by the hot wires. And, if you haven’t seen a small toddler that’s just barely walking that has a burn on their hand, it’s devastating for everyone,” Clements says. “Those are some of the things that are so preventable, but we see commonly. In my career, I’ve seen loss of digits. I’ve seen people having flying objects that went towards their eyes, sparks in their eyes, burns, temporary loss of hearing. I’ve seen quite a bit.”
As a reminder, your average, run-of-the-mill sparkler burns at roughly 1,200 degrees.
“And to put that into perspective, glass melts at 900 degrees and wood burns at 575 degrees,” Clements adds. “Leave the big fireworks up to the professionals. If you choose to use sparklers or the stationary cones or fountains or toy snakes or smoke bombs or any of those legal things, just make sure there’s supervision, and think about it before you do it” Clements warns. “So, when you’re going to use your sparklers, figure out what you’re going to do safely with that hot wire. Do you have an old ice cream bucket full of water? Tell the kids, ‘After you’re done with it, go put it in the bucket. It makes this really cool sound.’ Think about it before you do it,” says Clements. “Eye protection. If you’re going to use a fountain, make sure you have eye protection. How are you gonna light it? It’s a lot easier to light stuff off with a little torch than it is a book of matches. It’s a lot safer because you can be away from it. So, thinking things out and having a safety plan, being supervised, is gonna be the key to being successful and being safe.”
In 2022, there were 107 Emergency Department visits in Wisconsin caused by fireworks, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Males accounted for 78 percent of those visits. Approximately one quarter (26 percent) were children (ages 0-17). Additionally, there were less than five total hospitalizations due to firework-related injuries in 2022.
On Tuesday, July 4, bring your family to the Marshfield Fairgrounds to see the annual fireworks show orchestrated by Ace Pyro, LLC., a professional firm headquartered in lower Michigan. The annual event is sponsored by Festival Foods, starting at 10:05 p.m. that evening. If the event is postponed due to rain, the event will take place on Wednesday, July 5, beginning at 10:05 p.m.
“Our company has a long history of supporting Fourth of July celebrations in Wisconsin,” said Mark Skogen, President & CEO of Festival Foods. “Come join us as we bring families and communities together to celebrate our nation’s independence.”
The Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department provides the fireworks permit to Ace Pyro, LLC., and will be at the event in case an emergency arises. If there are questions concerning fireworks safety, contact the Fire Department at 715-384-3118.