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State fire marshal’s office, others warn of fireworks danger

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Office of State Fire Marshal, Oregon fire service, natural resource agencies, Oregon licensed fireworks wholesalers, and health and safety experts said Friday they want to encourage Oregonians to “keep it legal and keep it safe” when using legal fireworks.

The 2020 Oregon fireworks retail sales season opens June 23 and runs through July 6.

“Oregonians can help each other and especially our first responders by keeping all fireworks use safe and legal, especially now, with greater risks of wildfire this fire season and the stresses that COVID-19 is putting on our systems,” said Mark Johnston, assistant chief deputy fire marshal. “Our office’s fireworks safety and education materials reinforce these important messages to help prevent unwanted fires, wildfires, and calls to responders or visits to our medical facilities.”

The OSFM is providing downloadable items that help Oregonians understand the fireworks that are legal to use in Oregon without a permit, where they are permitted to be used, and the important safety steps to take when using fireworks. The OSFM is asking Oregonians to share this information with their friends, families, and neighbors.

OSFM’s fireworks materials can be found on its website.

The OSFM encourages everyone to use the four Bs of safe fireworks use:

  • Be prepared before lighting fireworks: keep water available by using a garden hose or bucket.
  • Be safe when lighting fireworks: keep children and pets away from fireworks.
  • Be responsible after lighting fireworks: never relight a dud. Wait 15 to 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water before disposal.
  • Be aware: use only legal fireworks and use them only in legal places.

The OSFM website also provides FAQs for commonly answered questions about the sale and legal use of consumer fireworks, permits for the retail sale of fireworks, and state rules for their use and enforcement activities.

In Oregon, officials may seize illegal fireworks and charge offenders with a class B misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of up to $2,500 per violation and a civil penalty of up to $500. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damage. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children. 

Despite their regulated sale and use, fireworks in Oregon continue to cause public safety and health threats every year. In 2020, the Oregon fire service faces additional burdens of protecting their personnel from exposure to COVID-19 and serving the public with the disease in circulation.

For the last reported five years through 2019, there were 1,173 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon, resulting in more than $4.9 million in property loss and contents damage. During that same period, fires resulting from fireworks resulted one death and 37 injuries. 

For more information on fireworks in Oregon, visit the OSFM website.

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Jordan Williams

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