AUSTIN, Texas - As everyone gets ready to celebrate the Fourth of July next weekend, the Austin Fire Department is reminding Austinites to celebrate safely.
AFD is also reminding residents that fireworks, while a staple of the holiday, are illegal within Austin city limits.
AFD says each year, there are hundreds of brush, grass, and structure fires across the state started by fireworks, doing millions of dollars in damage and risking the lives of innocent bystanders.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 17,800 reported fires were started by fireworks, and 8,700 fireworks-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms; 25 percent of those were due to sparklers and novelties. The NFPA also states there are more fires on a typical Fourth of July than any other day of the year, and that fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
Additionally, the risk of fireworks injury is highest for those ages 15-24, according to the NFPA.
"The best way to enjoy fireworks this Fourth of July holiday is to leave them to the professionals," said Fire Chief Joel G. Baker. "It is illegal to possess fireworks within the City of Austin, and to use or sell fireworks within the City of Austin and within 5,000 feet outside the city limits. If you are found in violation, the fine can be anywhere from $528 - $2,000; if your fireworks cause bodily harm and/or property damage, we can charge you with assault and/or arson, both felony crimes."
Complaints about fireworks should be made to 311.
The U.S. Department of Transportation does not classify the following items listed as common fireworks, and their use is allowed within the City of Austin:
- wooden stick sparklers (not wire stick sparklers)
- smoke bombs
- glow worms and snakes
- poppers, trick noisemakers, and snappers
However, sparklers can reach temperatures of 1,800 degrees and smoke bombs shoot a flame of two to three inches when ignited. AFD says that even though these items are legal, they can still be very dangerous.