‘Fireworks are incredibly dangerous’: DC Fire holds live demonstration to show dangers of illegal fireworks

DC Fire holds live demonstration to show dangers of illegal fireworks

Ahead of your Fourth of July celebrations, D.C. Fire and EMS is sharing the do’s and don’ts when it comes to fireworks.

“Fireworks are dangerous,” said Chief John Donnelly. “They are incredibly dangerous and quickly things can go wrong if people misuse them.”

That danger was on full display Tuesday when an apartment building in Southeast, D.C., went up in flames caused by young people shooting off Roman candles, which are illegal in the District.

The only fireworks the department can confirm as safe are those sold at the stand and permitted by the fire marshal’s office.

Fireworks that are prohibited in the District include any firework that moves, explodes or shoots a projectile or that emits a spark for flame greater than 12 feet. Fireworks that have a side-mounted fuse or fuse inserted at any point along the length of the product’s surface also aren’t allowed in D.C.

“Even if you purchase fireworks legally in the District, many of the jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia, all fireworks are illegal,” said Fire Marshal Mitchell Kannry. “Even legal fireworks in the District cannot be brought to other jurisdictions to use.”

The following types of fireworks are allowed to be stored, displayed, sold and delivered in D.C.:

  • Sparklers 20”or less
  • Torches
  • Box Fire
  • Fountains
  • Cones
  • Dip Sticks
  • Paper Caps
  • Nonpoisonous snakes
  • Paper Novelty Items
  • Colored Lights

The fire department is also offering a slew of tips to stay safe when using fireworks, including always following label directions and having an adult present. D.C. Fire and EMS also said to keep water or sand on hand to put fireworks out after use and to light them one at a time.

D.C. officials urged anyone who sees illegal fireworks being sold or used to call the FEMS nonemergency line at 311 or the designated number at 202-673-2776. An anonymous report box is also available online.

Using or buying illegal fireworks could result in a $2,000 or more fine or criminal prosecution.

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Cheyenne Corin

Cheyenne Corin joined the WTOP News team in February 2023. Prior to this role she was a Montgomery County, Maryland, bureau reporter at WDVM/DC News Now.

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