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Itemizer-Observer report

SALEM — With the 2021 Oregon fireworks retail sales season opening June 23 and running through July 6, the Office of State Fire Marshal, the Oregon Fire Service, natural resource agencies, and Oregon licensed fireworks wholesalers ask Oregonians to “keep it legal and keep it safe.”

The OSFM and its partners want everyone to know which fireworks are legal to use in Oregon without a permit, where residents can use them and how to use fireworks safely.

In 2020, the U.S. saw a record-setting year when it comes to the consumption of fireworks. Americans consumed 385.8 million pounds of fireworks, a 55% increase from the previous year. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nationwide, children 4 years old and younger are injured by fireworks and treated at an emergency department more than any other age group (5.3 injuries per 100,000 people). Older teens, 15 to 19 years old, have the second-highest injury rate (4.4 injuries per 100,000 people). Males represent 66% of all firework-related injuries.

In Oregon, between 2016 and 2020, Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Lane Counties have had the highest rates of firework-related injuries.

With an arid spring, much of Oregon is experiencing some form of drought, and concerns over an active wildfire season, the OSFM is asking people to be aware of the dry conditions. Always have a bucket of water on hand to drown spent or used fireworks, have a charged hose nearby, and never light fireworks near dry grass or areas that could catch fire easily.

“We ask that those using fireworks be responsible when using them,” said Mark Johnston, Assistant Chief Deputy with the OSFM. “Every year across the state, we see fires sparked because of improper use or use of illegal fireworks. Our message is to keep it legal and keep it safe as people celebrate the holiday.”

In Oregon, residents and visitors can only purchase consumer legal fireworks from permitted fireworks retailers and stands. State regulations limit where those fireworks may be used. Fireworks can also start structural fires that threaten lives and property, as we have seen in past years. People who plan to visit public lands and parks for the July 4 holiday are asked to leave all fireworks at home. The use of fireworks is prohibited in national parks and forests, on Bureau of Land Management lands, on U.S. Fish and Wildlife properties, on state beaches, in state parks, and in state campgrounds.

For residents who purchase legal fireworks, the OSFM encourages everyone to practice the four Bs of safe fireworks use:

• Be prepared before lighting fireworks: keep water available by using a garden hose or bucket.

• Be safe when lighting fireworks: keep children and pets away from fireworks.

• Be responsible after lighting fireworks: never relight a dud. Please wait for 15 to 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water before disposal.

• Be aware: use only legal fireworks and use them only in legal places.

Oregon law prohibits the possession, use, or sale of any firework that flies into the air, explodes, or travels more than 12 feet horizontally on the ground without a permit issued by the OSFM. Fireworks, commonly called bottle rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon without a permit. Officials may seize illegal fireworks and charge offenders with a class B misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of up to $2,500 per violation. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damage. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children.

The OSFM has published FAQs for commonly answered questions about the sale and legal use of consumer fireworks, permits for the retail sale of fireworks, and state rules for their use and enforcement activities. OSFM’s fireworks education materials for sharing on social media also can be found on its website, www.oregon.gov/osp/programs/sfm/Pages/default.aspx.

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