(Photo by Jym Wilson)

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As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, the Springfield Fire Department reminds city residents that it is illegal to sell, possess, manufacture or discharge fireworks inside city limits.

Not only do fireworks pose a risk of setting property on fire, Fire Chief David Pennington said misuse of fireworks can cause serious injuries and even kill people.  

“Every year emergency rooms are inundated with injuries from fireworks,” Pennington said.  “And we had a fatality last summer inside the city when a large rocket impacted someone and killed them.”

People who ignore the ban on fireworks potentially could face up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail, Pennington said.  Citations have been issued in the past, he noted.

“Typically the Fire Marshal or police department could respond to a nuisance complaint about fireworks,” he said.  “First, we would ask for compliance — please don’t discharge them.

“If they become difficult about it we could confiscate the fireworks, which can be very expensive to buy.  If it escalates a citation could be issued, with up to a $1,000 fine and one year in jail.”

Springfield Fire Department fire truck. (Photo: City of Springfield)

A fire department news release Thursday noted there were 485 emergency room visits related to fireworks statewide in 2020, including 35 people admitted with serious injuries.  Half of the injuries were burns, and the most common injuries were to hands and fingers.

The city allows novelty items, such as snappers, party poppers, toy smoke devices and glowworms and some sparklers.  Those should be used with extreme care and under adult supervision, according to the fire department.

“Sparklers burn at temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees and are the leading cause of injuries around the Fourth of July,” Pennington said. “Children should be educated on how to avoid injury from sparklers and well-supervised by an adult during their use.”

Instead of shooting off illegal fireworks, Pennington encouraged people to attend organized community displays.

“These displays are presented by professionals who have obtained the required permit and safety inspection by the Bureau of Fire Prevention to ensure the safety of the public,” he said.   

Wes Johnson has been a journalist for more than 40 years and has lived in Springfield since 2004. He’s an avid sailor, hiker and nature lover. Have a good outdoors story idea? Johnson can be reached at 417-631-2168 or by email at wesdjohnson66@gmail.com.