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St. Louis Fire Department warns residents against using fireworks for Independence Day celebrations

Sarah Kellogg

The St. Louis Fire Department is cautioning St. Louis area residents against setting off fireworks this weekend.

The use of consumer fireworks is legal in Missouri, but illegal in St. Louis city and county.

“We hear them in South City, North City, the West End, downtown, they’re illegal. It’s illegal in the city of St. Louis to shoot fireworks: bottle rockets, firecrackers, sparklers, anything,” St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said.

Some surrounding counties do allow the use of consumer fireworks.

This June, Wentzville passed a policy allows the use of commercial fireworks from 5-10 p.m. on July 4, while St. Charles has allowed fireworks since 2005.

Fire officials say children four and younger are most at risk for firework injuries, followed by 10 to 14 year olds and even if parents are supervising, it only takes a second for fireworks to injure a kid.

“There are so many things that can go wrong with a device that is burning at 2000 degrees and it happens so quick. In the blink of an eye, somebody turns and the sparkler goes into a child’s eye, or onto the face,” Jenkerson said.

On average, fireworks are responsible for two fifths of all U.S. fires on Independence Day and in 2013, an estimated 11 thousand people were treated for firework related injuries nationwide.

“50 percent of the burns that happen over the fourth of July happen to the children. Most of them occur on the face, the hands and more importantly the eyes, so we’re pleading with the people of the area, don’t use the fireworks,” Jenkerson said.

The fire department is expecting to respond to at least 35 to 40 firework-related calls per day over this Fourth of July holiday and they are increasing the amount of staff on duty to cover both residential areas and Fair St. Louis over this holiday weekend.  

“We know it’s coming. The only thing that’s helping us right now is the fact that everything is so wet from all the rain we’ve had,” Jenkerson said.

The department suggests going to professional firework displays instead of using consumer fireworks.