ST. LOUIS — St. Louis City officials ask residents to leave the fireworks to the professionals.
Fireworks are illegal in many areas, and despite the location, there are dangers that are elevated in these dry conditions.
“The reality is there is no safe way to discharge consumer fireworks,’ said St. Louis City Fire Captain Garon Mosby. “Severe injuries occur, emergency room visits, occupied building fires, vacant building fires.”
Capt. Mosby said on the fourth of July when the pandemic hit in 2020, they had nearly 600 calls. Last year, they had about 500, and they are concerned about this year.
In 2017, Capt. Mosby said they lost a fire captain after being injured in a post-fourth of July fire and they recently lost a firefighter, Ben Polson, who died fighting a fire in a vacant building in January 2022.
“Fire Captain John Kemper was fighting a fire that likely started by fireworks,” said Mosby. “Experienced a medical emergency and later died in the line of duty on July 12. It’s no secret to everyone here that the vacant building fires increase during this time, and that’s another challenge.”
Dry weather can make matters worse. In the month of June, we only had five days of measurable rainfall. With a monthly total of more than two inches below normal.
“Depending on how the weather is leading up,” said Mosby. “If it’s drier than usual, not a lot of rain, things will be drier. So, something like a bottle rocket that lands on a rooftop if you remember Macklind’s Deli a few years back. Huge fire. Flat roof.”
It’s an important reminder to parents of the dangers of what may seem like a safer option, sparklers.
“A lot of parents think it’s okay or safe to hand a child a sparkler,” said Mosby said. “I’ll put it to you this way. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. We bake a cake at about 350 degrees. Glass melts at 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Sparklers burn at up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Illegal fireworks of any kind are a burden to our first responders, and firefighters ask that you leave it to the professionals and visit a public display.
The Metro West Fire Department’s Lieutenant Matt Coppin shares the same concerns as the city. Coppin said if you’re popping fireworks in your backyard or a dry field and grass does catch on fire, call 911. He does not recommend handling it yourself.
He also warns that fireworks stay very hot internally even long after they’ve been extinguished. The best practice is to soak them in water and leave them there overnight. They’re internally hot, so you may be able to touch the outside, but inside it’s still hot and can catch whatever you put it in on fire.