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What Do Cities Do With Confiscated Fireworks?

Fireworks are a lot of fun, but they can also be dangerous. In some states, they can also be illegal. If you’ve ever had the government confiscate your fireworks, you may find yourself wondering what they do with them.

Most of us don’t know how to dispose of fireworks, so you may be curious what your city’s fireworks disposal solution is since they’re certainly not shooting them off in their backyards. Before we get into how cities dispose of fireworks, let’s look at a brief history and some of the restrictions of various states.

A Brief History of Fireworks

Fireworks experts know that fireworks were invented in China, where they remain popular. It all started over 2,000 years ago, when someone threw bamboo into a fire, causing it to explode. That was the world’s first firecracker.

For almost 1,000 years after that, the world made little progress in pyro-technology until the Chinese invented gunpowder by combining sulfur, saltpeter and charcoal and setting it on fire. This set the stage for ballistic weapons, a much more dangerous cousin of fireworks, as well as for fireworks themselves.

At the turn of the 14th century, Marco Polo brought many treasures from Asia to Europe, including fireworks. By the 15th century, the cultural advances of the Renaissance spread to fireworks, as artists all over Italy expressed their creativity by creating sparklers and new and exciting firework designs.

By the 18th century, fireworks had found their way to the common folk, and colonists from England brought them to the United States, just in time for the first Independence Day celebration in 1777. In the 1830s, Italian fireworks experts took fireworks to a new level by adding color with chlorinated powder and metallic salts.

In 1976, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission required that consumer fireworks fuses be designed to burn for three to nine seconds. In 1999, Disney, the largest consumer of fireworks in the United States, used compressed air rather than gunpowder to launch fireworks at Disney World.

Today, people continue to enjoy all manner of fireworks all over the world, usually to mark special holidays such as Independence Day and New Year’s Day.

Reasons for Fireworks Bans

When we talk of fireworks bans, we are usually talking about the kinds of fireworks that shoot up into the air and explode, not tamer members of the fireworks family, like sparklers. The reason they are banned in some states and counties is clear. When used carelessly, they can be extremely dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated nearly 10,000 injuries related to fireworks across the country back in 2007, and the situation has not improved much over the last ten years.

Fireworks are explosive devices. They are essentially bombs, and bombs damage things when they go off. In the case of fireworks, those things are often the fingers of the person lighting the fuse. Of course, innocent bystanders can be hurt by a careless fireworks operator as well, or worse yet, a malicious one. Most people who use fireworks use them all in fun, but it’s been on more than one occasion that a prankster and fireworks came together with destructive results.

It all comes down to a matter of personal freedom and responsibility vs. safety. In states where the people, through their elected officials, have determined that the destructive capability of fireworks is too great to allow consumers to have unfettered access to them, they are banned. In states where they feel that people who are responsible enough to enjoy fireworks with a relative degree of safety should be allowed to, they are permitted. Within these boundaries, some states may allow or disallow certain types of fireworks depending on the level of threat to public safety they perceive.

States That Ban Fireworks

Fireworks laws in the United States vary greatly from state to state. Some states have almost no restrictions on consumer aerial explosive fireworks, while others may restrict almost all fireworks use. If you are a fireworks enthusiast, it’s very important to know what the fireworks rules are in the state where you are planning to set up your pyrotechnic display. Here is a basic overview of the attitude toward fireworks in the various states:

The Northeast

You will find the strictest bans of consumer fireworks in the United States in the Northeast. If you live in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island or Vermont, consumer fireworks are illegal.

The only states in this area free of the ban are Maine and New Hampshire, which also allow sky-exploding consumer fireworks.

The South

Once you head toward the South, fireworks are allowed almost everywhere you go — from Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi, all the way to Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

In Florida, North Carolina and the Virginias, you will require a license to handle explosive fireworks.

The Midwest

Moving to the Midwest, you’ll find a fairly permissive fireworks culture as well, with Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and both Dakotas being fine with consumer fireworks.

Only Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin say no.

The West Coast

The West Coast, like their eastern counterparts, aren’t as comfortable with the free use of explosives of any kind, so you won’t find legal, consumer, sky-exploding fireworks in the hands of regular citizens in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon or Washington.

Nevada, as is often the case, has different rules for different counties. California goes so far as to ban wire and wooden stick sparklers. If you want to shoot off your Roman Candles in Montana, New Mexico, Utah or Wyoming, however, go right ahead.
If you’re outside the continental U.S.? Alaska says yes, and Hawaii says no to consumer aerial explosive fireworks.

Safety Precautions for Fireworks

Most fire safety professionals will tell you that if you want to see fireworks, the best thing to do is go to a government-approved, scheduled fireworks display in your area. But for some, there is nothing that matches the excitement of setting off your own fireworks and seeing them explode in the air with a burst of light and sound right above you.

So, assuming you are in a place where fireworks are legal, how can you make sure to use them safely? Well, since you are handling explosives, there is no way to make setting off fireworks 100 percent safe. But if you want to make it a lot safer, here are a few rules to follow:

  • Never allow children to light fireworks. The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends prohibiting those 12 and under from handling fireworks, including sparklers. Children tend to be poor estimators of when a firework is about to go off or how to handle one correctly, and those under the age of 15 suffer more firework-related injuries than any other age group.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and any warnings. If there are no instructions or warnings, use a different firework.
  • Keep water on hand in case of an accidental fire or to ensure a firework that did not ignite is inert.
  • Only buy legal fireworks from reputable dealers. M-80s and Cherry Bombs are illegal everywhere, so you shouldn’t be buying them. If someone is trying to sell them to you, get your fireworks elsewhere.
  • Never hold fireworks while lighting them. Place them on a smooth, flat surface a safe distance from any dry leaves, flammable objects or homes.
  • Make sure everyone is out of range when lighting your firework. A firework can travel 150 feet.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at someone else.
  • Wear safety glasses.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Never try to relight a firework that did not ignite. Render it inert immediately by dousing it with water.

How Do Cities Safely Dispose of Fireworks?

So, how do cities dispose of confiscated fireworks? What to do with these fireworks depends upon the municipality where the fireworks are confiscated. The agency responsible for disposing of the fireworks has a few options. They may actually set off the fireworks in a controlled environment, although, again, probably not in someone’s backyard.

Alternatively, they may take steps to render the fireworks inert by inundating them with water and then disposing of them normally. Another fireworks disposal method they may use is a fireworks burner like the SafePass Fireworks Burner from TM International, LLC.

The SafePass Fireworks Burner from TM International, LLC is a ballistic shield that allows a person to safely detonate explosive devices and dispose fireworks. The shield’s powerful construction contains the blast and any fragmentation, so the explosives, be they fireworks or some other type of explosive device, can spend their charge without hurting people or the surrounding environment.

The SafePass Fireworks Burner is a product of the expertise and experience of security experts doing field tests and research on fragmentation protection in diverse environments. These shields are made from innovative new materials for peak fragmentation control and pressure reduction, and they have been serving government bodies as well as private and public entities for years. They’re even approved for use by the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

If you are a government agency in need of a safe, easy way to dispose of illegal fireworks or other explosive devices, you may find the SafePass Fireworks Burner to be useful. Also, if you are a private citizen who owns a substantial number of fireworks that you have discovered to be illegal, you may be interested in purchasing a SafePass Fireworks Burner to dispose of your fireworks safely and without incurring a disposal charge from your local government agesncy.

To learn more about the amazing ability of the SafePass Fireworks Burner to contain the explosive power of fireworks and many other, larger explosive devices, contact TM International, LLC for more information today.