Put Safety First When Celebrating the Fourth of July!

Fireworks Caused 245 Fires, $1.13 Million in Damages in 2022 in Tennessee
Wednesday, June 28, 2023 | 11:00am

NASHVILLE — Patriotic firework displays are a mainstay of American Fourth of July celebrations. Unfortunately, consumer fireworks can pose a hazard to Tennesseans’ health and safety.

Ahead of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (“TDCI”) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (“SFMO”) reminds Tennesseans to consider the risks to their personal safety, property, and finances that can arise from consumer fireworks-related mishaps. In 2022, Tennessee fire departments responded to 245 fires started by fireworks that caused an estimated $1.13 million in direct property damage.

“The Fourth of July holiday is always a great opportunity to celebrate our nation’s independence with friends, family members, and loved ones,” said Tennessee State Fire Marshal and TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “The best way to ensure that you and your loved ones have a safe holiday celebration is to attend a public fireworks display put on by trained and licensed fireworks professionals.”

Said Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley: “During the Fourth of July holidays, I urge Tennesseans to not risk starting a fire or injuring themselves and potentially adding to the burdens of our hard-working first responders. If you do shoot consumer fireworks, please familiarize yourself with your local fireworks laws and always put safety first.”

Know the Financial, Legal, and Safety Risks from Fireworks

Before using consumer fireworks, familiarize yourself with local fireworks laws by checking with your local law enforcement or fire department. Several counties and cities in the Volunteer State have ordinances and restrictions related to fireworks usage.

Many insurance policies contain provisions excluding coverage for illegal acts (which might include shooting fireworks) committed by the insured. However, consumers who experience property damage caused by another person’s use of fireworks may be able to claim benefits under their homeowners or renters policy.

In addition to local laws, Tennessee has several state laws pertaining to fireworks:

  • A 2007 Tennessee law prevents children under 16 from purchasing fireworks. Those who are 16 or 17 must present a photo ID to purchase fireworks.
  • State legislation passed in 2011 reclassified sky lanterns as special fireworks exclusively for use by individuals with a professional license. The general public cannot purchase or use sky lanterns. If a sky lantern is found in the possession of someone who does not have a professional license issued by the SFMO, the device can be confiscated and destroyed.
  • A law passed in 2015 prohibits flying a drone (an unmanned aircraft) above an outdoor ticketed event with more than 100 people or in the vicinity of a fireworks display site, without the permission of the event operator.

If consumer fireworks are legal where you live in Tennessee and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:

  • Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals.
  • Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
  • Sparklers are not toys and cause hundreds of injuries every year. Sparklers can reach temperatures as high as 1200° F and stay hot even after they’ve burned out.