As Volunteer State residents prepare to celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (“SFMO”) urges Tennesseans to consider the risks to your personal safety, your property, and your finances that can arise from fireworks-related mishaps.
Consumer fireworks pose a hazard to Tennesseans’ health and safety. Records show 175 total fires were started in 2021 by fireworks causing $1.23 million in direct property damage in Tennessee. Aside from causing injuries, fires or damage caused by fireworks in a Tennessee municipality that bans fireworks may not be covered by traditional homeowners or renters insurance policies which puts the financial burden of making repairs solely on the shoulders of consumers.
“During the fun and festivities of this year’s Fourth of July holiday, I remind Tennesseans to not risk starting a fire or injuring themselves thereby adding to the burdens of our hard-working emergency and medical personnel,” said State Fire Marshal Carter Lawrence. “Celebrate the holiday safely by thinking of others and not pursuing risky behavior that can lead to an injury or death.”
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 thereby adding to the burdens of our hard-working first responders.”
This year, TDCI reminds consumers to remember the risks that come from consumer fireworks.
Know the Financial, Legal, and Safety Risks from Fireworks
Many insurance policies contain provisions disclaiming coverage for illegal acts committed by the insured. However, consumers who experience property damage due to another person’s use of fireworks may be able to claim benefits under their homeowners or renters policy.
Several counties and cities in the Volunteer State have ordinances and restrictions related to fireworks usage. Before lighting fireworks, TDCI urges residents to check with their local police or fire department to determine local laws about fireworks.
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.
- Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
- 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 burn hot, can reach temperatures as high as 1,200° F, and stay hot after they’ve burned out. You would never hand a matchbook or lighter to a child to wave or play with so, don’t give a sparkler to a child.