FD firefighter offers tips on safely using fireworks

Fire Marshal:?‘Know what your firework will do’

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Tom Ubben, Fort Dodge firefighter, lights a sparkler at the Fort Dodge Fire Station recently.

With fireworks legal in Fort Dodge and around the state, it’s important to remember how to use them safely, according to Fort Dodge Firefighter Tom Ubben, who also serves as the Region V Hazmat coordinator.

Being aware of surroundings is the No. 1 piece of advice Ubben offered.

“Safety for yourself and be aware of your surroundings,” Ubben said. “Keep track of kids if they are around. Be aware of what kids have in their hands. Be aware of who’s handling fireworks.”

“If you are having your own fireworks display make sure it’s a safe environment for everyone involved — spectators and people lighting them off,” Ubben added.

Ubben has been a firefighter since 2011. He said the fireworks injuries he has witnessed all could have been prevented.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Tom Ubben, Fort Dodge firefighter, holds a sparkler away from his body at the Fort Dodge Fire Station recently.

Ubben also said to be aware of what the firework is designed to produce.

He said even sparklers burn to extreme temperatures.

According to Ubben, sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ubben also advised against attempting to re-light a dud firework.

“That’s a big one,” he said. “People will sometimes light the fuse again after it didn’t light the first time and all the sudden the fuse goes down and you have less time to react when it goes off.”

The surface where fireworks are lit is also important, he said.

“The grass can get really dry around here in the summer months,” he said. “Be sure to light it on a safe surface.”

Improper use can even result in house fires, according to Ubben.

”The embers that are given off when the firework is lit disperse and can actually start house fires if that lands on combustible materials,” Ubben said. “When it’s dry that can really accelerate it.”

Sales of consumer fireworks are allowed between June 1 and July 8 each year. They are also allowed from Dec. 10 to Jan. 3.

Temporary stands can be used for consumer fireworks sales between June 13 and July 8.

Fireworks may be used between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. They can be used from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 4 and on the Saturdays and Sundays before and after July 4.

According to the latest report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly half of fireworks injuries affect people under the age of 20.

Furthermore, the report found that young adults between the age of 15 and 19 were at the greatest risk of injuries treated in the emergency room. A majority of those injuries resulted from the use of sparklers, bottle rockets, and small firecrackers.

A professional fireworks show will be held July 1 at Fort Frenzy. Gates open at 6 p.m. A concert featuring Walker Hayes starts at 7 p.m. with fireworks to follow at 9:45 p.m.


Tips for safe use of fireworks

The State Fire Marshal offered these tips for safe use of fireworks

• Know what your firework will do

• Do not hold fireworks in your hand or misuse them.

• Use safety glasses to protect your eyes

• Never try to re-light a dud

• Have water or fire extinguishers close

• Talk with your neighbors before setting off fireworks

• Follow the law


Fireworks safety checklist

The National Fire Protection Association released a checklist for people who wish to set off their own fireworks.

• Only buy fireworks from a licensed seller.

• Read and follow directions on the fireworks before lighting them.

• Have water handy in case of an emergency.

• Only use fireworks in an open, outdoor area.

• Light the fireworks on a hard surface and be cautious of any wind.

• Have a designated person to set off the fireworks who avoids alcohol and does not wear loose clothing.

• Do not alter or combine fireworks.

• Aim the fireworks away from houses, dry leaves, flammable materials, and people.

• Never extend a body part over the device.

• Light one firework at a time.

• Never relight a dud firework.

• Wait 20 minutes after setting off the firework to approach it, and then soak it in water.


FD fireworks ordinance

The city of Fort Dodge has the following restrictions for fireworks

• Possession of fireworks by anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited.

• Police are authorized to confiscate fireworks from anyone under the age of 18.

• The use of fireworks by anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited.

• A fine of $750 for second and subsequent violations of fireworks rules.

• Businesses that sell fireworks are to have a $2 million insurance policy.