For Immediate Release: June 28, 2010

Contacts: Kristin Milam or Kerry Hall 919-807-6011

Put Safety First, Leave Fireworks to the Pros this July 4th

Raleigh -- Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin reminds all North Carolinians to put safety first this Fourth of July holiday weekend.

This year, operators and assistants are required to have a state license to put on a pyrotechnic or proximate fireworks display. Just over 350 people have completed the necessary training course, submitted an application and passed an exam to receive a three-year license through the Office of State Fire Marshal.

Experienced operators also have an opportunity to obtain a one-time, 30-day license. Those individuals are required to pursue permanent certification by taking the course and passing the exam in order to conduct future pyrotechnic displays after the temporary license expires.

Legislation requiring these heightened safety regulations went into effect Feb. 1, 2010, after last year’s tragic Fourth of July fireworks explosion on Ocracoke Island that killed four operators and injured another. Previously, the law required local jurisdictions to define a fireworks expert; this law sets a minimum benchmark of expertise for all operators and assistants working in North Carolina.

"I encourage everyone to take advantage of the fireworks displays put on by licensed professionals this Fourth of July," said State Fire Marshal Goodwin. "Attending a professional display in your community is the best way to keep your family safe and celebrate legally. Even the few kinds of consumer fireworks that are legal in North Carolina are dangerous."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2008:

NFPA studies show a sparkler burns at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. To put that into perspective, glass melts at 900 degrees, and water boils at 212 degrees.

State Fire Marshal Goodwin and the Office of State Fire Marshal recommend leaving all fireworks, even the legal ones, to the professionals.