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Keep it safe and sane on the Fourth of July


TVF&R shares safety advice when it comes to fireworks - one of the leading causes of fire calls in the summer

by: CITY OF PORTLAND - This chart helps explains which types of fireworks are allowed in Oregon for the July Fourth holiday. In an effort to help curb illegal activity, TVF&R Firefighters will be patrolling neighborhoods on Friday reminding individuals to use fireworks safely. In addition, TVF&R Deputy Fire Marshals will attend public displays and will ride with local police officers to assist with enforcement efforts.

Individuals needing to report a fire or medical emergency should always call 9-1-1; individuals wishing to report a nuisance or concern about illegal fireworks should do so via their non-emergency 9-1-1 number. These situations will be logged and passed on to local enforcement, and responded to as resources allow.

“In the past five years, TVF&R has had 86 fireworks-related fires causing nearly $2 million dollars in damage,” said Fire Marshal Steve Forster. “This is significant when you realize that fireworks are only on sale for less than two weeks a year.”

According to the Oregon State Fire Marshal, there were 197 fireworks-caused fires, and 31 reported fireworks-caused injuries statewide last year. Most of the injuries were from using illegal mortars and legal sparklers. Fireworks can also be traumatic to veterans and pets.

Oregon law bans fireworks that fly, explode, or move across the ground more than six feet or up in the air more than 12 inches. This includes popular items like bottle rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, and M80s. Fireworks purchased by mail order, or in the state of Washington or on Native American reservations could well be illegal in Oregon. To keep it legal, purchase all fireworks at a licensed Oregon firework stand or retail outlet.

Under Oregon law, police can seize illegal fireworks and you can be fined up to $500 per violation. You can also be held civilly liable for damages resulting from improper use of any fireworks - legal or illegal.

Many of TVF&R’s firework-related fires are caused by careless use or improper disposal of legal fireworks.

“Our fires involve both illegal and legal fireworks,” said Forster. “Just because it’s legal, doesn't mean it’s 100 percent safe.”

This advice includes sparklers, which can reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. For comparison, wood burns at 575 degrees, while glass melts at 900 degrees.

Help ensure your safety this year with the following tips:

* Only adults should light or handle fireworks. Supervise children at all times.

* Store fireworks, matches, and lighters out of the reach of children.

* Use fireworks outdoors on a paved surface, away from buildings, vehicles, and vegetation.

* Never pick up or try to re-light a dud.

* Never alter fireworks or make your own.

* Have a hose nearby in case of fire and place "spent" fireworks in a metal bucket with water.