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Fourth of July Safety: Keep Fireworks in the Hands of the Experts


BELMAR, NJ — There’s no doubt that fireworks are fun to watch. And that’s exactly the point public safety officials are once again stressing during this year’s Fourth of July celebration — keep the fireworks themselves in the hands of the professionals.

In fact, that’s the only legal option in New Jersey where the personal use of any type of fireworks — even those harmless-looking sparklers — is prohibited.

“The result of fireworks being handled in the wrong way can cause serious injuries,” said Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. “It’s important to know that the danger is not only limited to general Fourth of July fireworks. Even sparklers should be kept away from children, as they can easily cause harm. Let the professionals handle the fireworks and celebrate America’s independence responsibly and safe."

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During a two-week period in 2016, the Monmouth County 9-1-1 Communications Center received 193 calls related to fireworks before and after the Fourth of July holiday — an increase of 25 over the previous year.

In addition to personal injury, fireworks are also the major cause of fires around the Independent Day holiday every year, according to statistics provided by Belmar Fire Marshal Ryan Dullea. Here is a look:

  • From 2009 to 2013, fire departments throughout the United States responded to an average of 18,500 fires caused by fireworks. These fires included 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. An estimated two people were killed in these fires.
  • Twenty-eight percent of fires started by fireworks during the same five-year period were reported on July 4.
  • Nearly one-half of reported fires on the holiday were started by fireworks.

‘Dangerous Fireworks’— Defined Under New Jersey Law

New Jersey Criminal Code Title 21:2-6 states: “It shall be unlawful to manufacture, sell, transport or use dangerous fireworks within the state.” Dangerous fireworks are defined in Title 21:2-3 as:

  • Toy torpedoes containing more than 5 grains of an explosive composition.
  • Paper caps containing more than .35 grains of explosive composition.
  • Firecrackers or salutes exceeding 5 inches in length or ¾ inch in diameter.
  • Cannons, canes, pistols or other devices designed for use otherwise than with paper caps.
  • Any fireworks containing a compound of yellow or white phosphorous or mercury.
  • Any fireworks that contain a detonator or blasting cap.
  • Fireworks compositions that ignite spontaneously or undergo marked decomposition when subjected for 48 consecutive hours to a temperature of 167 degrees F.
  • Fireworks that can be exploded en masse by a blasting cap placed in one of the units.
  • Fireworks such as sparklers or fuses, containing a match tip or head, or similar igniting point or surface, unless each individual tip, head or igniting point or surface is thoroughly covered and securely protected from accidental contact or friction with any other surface.
  • Fireworks containing an ammonium salt and a chlorate.


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