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Fireworks legislation a disaster waiting to happen


Arizona heads into summer 2016 with forecasts once again showing a potentially charring fire season ahead.

Local, state and federal agencies are doing everything possible to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season in an effort to minimize damage to our beautiful forests.

Despite routinely facing dry conditions and persistent threats of wild fires, the Legislature is about to make the job of preventing fires even harder.

Jim Ford

Jim Ford

HB2398, sponsored by Rep. Anthony Kern and strongly supported by House Speaker David Gowan, once again changes the guidelines and legalizes banned and dangerous fireworks to be sold out in the open in big-box retail stores.

Catastrophe will not be far behind.

In Scottsdale, thousands enjoy hikes through our nature preserves and mountain trails near and in our city. The McDowell Mountain Preserve is our diamond in the desert and encompasses more than 30,000 pristine acres, offering hiking trails and beautiful panoramas.

It’s bad enough that HB2398 legalizes fireworks that are much more powerful and dangerous that can shoot 60 feet into the sky and firecrackers that while popular, often send people to the hospital for injuries and burns. But the bill also removes an important national safety component that helps local fire departments safely regulate the display, storage and sale of these more powerful devices.

The bill repeals an important regulation from the National Fire Protection Association that mandates these particular fireworks are properly displayed in an area with proper separations, supervision, access and exiting. Without this important regulation, a big-box retail store could display these fireworks in a manner that does not take into account the dangers associated with these explosive devices.

The bill now requires that retailers be allowed to sell much more powerful multiple cake boxes and mine shells, which when ignited shoot into the air and result in larger explosions. They are fun to look at on a patriotic July 4 night, but in a retail store or local neighborhood they represent a grave and increased danger.

Each of the provisions increases the chances for fire and harm to Arizona residents. But together they represent a potential for grave danger to the people inside retail stores, neighborhoods and in our open forests.

That is why many firefighters oppose this dangerous expansion. Allowing the fireworks to be sold in retail stores with virtually no safeguards is a recipe for disaster. In 2014 alone, more than 10,000 people went to a hospital due to a fireworks injury. And according to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2011 fireworks caused 17,800 fires, including many in outdoor areas.

I hope legislators, especially those that represent fire-prone areas or are concerned about the safety of the people they represent, consider the real harm that can be done from the increased sale and use of these more powerful types of consumer fireworks. HB2398 is a danger to us all and senators should defeat this reckless legislation.

Jim Ford is the fire marshal for the City of Scottsdale.


  1. The idea that this legislation removed the National Fire Protection Association requirements for selling consumer fireworks is simply false. As you can see below NFPA 1124 is included in this bill as it is wherever consumer fireworks are sold in the U.S..

    Another issue with this opinion I would like to refute is the suggestion that big box stores will be able to sale aerial and or explosive consumer fireworks and I can assure everyone that is not the case. Retailers like Walmart and Target will not sale fireworks that become airborne or explode. Big box stores such as those listed specifically sale consumer fireworks such as fountains, sparklers and snakes on a seasonal basis in most states and not one state allows them to sale anything larger.

    All in all I can understand the concern with this bill but in my honest opinion this article is filled with scare tactics when in reality consumer fireworks are safer than they have ever been.

    House Engrossed

    State of Arizona
    House of Representatives
    Fifty-second Legislature
    Second Regular Session

    HOUSE BILL 2398

    AN ACT



    Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
    Section 1. Section 36-1601, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
    36-1601. Definitions
    In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
    1. “APA 87‑1” means the American pyrotechnics association standard 87‑1, standard for construction and approval for transportation of fireworks, novelties and theatrical pyrotechnics, December 1, 2001 version.
    2. “Consumer firework” means small firework devices that contain restricted amounts of pyrotechnic composition designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion and that comply with the construction, chemical composition and labeling regulations prescribed in 49 Code of Federal Regulations parts 172 and 173, regulations of the United States consumer product safety commission as prescribed in 16 Code of Federal Regulations parts 1500 and 1507 and the APA 87‑1.
    3. “Display firework” means large firework devices that are explosive materials intended for use in fireworks displays and designed to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration or detonation as prescribed by 49 Code of Federal Regulations part 172, regulations of the United States consumer product safety commission as prescribed in 16 Code of Federal Regulations parts 1500 and 1507 and the APA 87‑1.
    4. “Fireworks”:
    (a) Means any combustible or explosive composition, substance or combination of substances, or any article prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration or detonation, that is a consumer firework or display firework.
    (b) Does not include:
    (i) Toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns or other devices in which paper caps containing not more than twenty‑five hundredths grains of explosive compound are used if constructed so that the hand cannot come in contact with the cap when in place for the explosion.
    (ii) Toy pistol paper caps that contain less than twenty‑hundredths grains of explosive mixture, or fixed ammunition or primers therefor.
    (iii) Federally deregulated novelty items that are known as snappers, snap caps, party poppers, glow worms, snakes, toy smoke devices and sparklers.
    (iv) Permissible consumer fireworks.
    5. “Governing body” means the board of supervisors of a county as to the area within the county but without the corporate limits of an incorporated city or town and means the governing body of an incorporated city or town as to the area within its corporate limits.
    6. “NFPA 1124” means the national fire protection association code for the manufacture, transportation, storage, and retail sales of fireworks and pyrotechnic articles, 2013 edition as published in August 2012, NOT INCLUDING SECTION
    7. “Permissible consumer fireworks”:
    (a) Means the following types of consumer fireworks as defined by the APA 87‑1:
    (i) Ground and handheld sparkling devices.
    (ii) Cylindrical fountains.
    (iii) Cone fountains.
    (iv) Illuminating torches.
    (v) Wheels.
    (vi) Ground spinners.
    (vii) Flitter sparklers.
    (viii) Toy smoke devices.
    (ix) Wire sparklers or dipped sticks.
    (x) (xii) Multiple tube ground and handheld sparkling devices, INCLUDING cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, MINE AND SHELL DEVICES and illuminating torches manufactured in accordance with section 3.5 of the APA 87‑1.
    (b) Does not include anything, OTHER THAN MINE AND SHELL DEVICES AND FIRECRACKERS, that is designed or intended to rise into the air and explode or to detonate in the air or to fly above the ground, including firework items defined by the APA 87‑1 and known as firecrackers, bottle rockets, sky rockets, missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, torpedoes, roman candles, mine devices, shell devices and aerial shell kits or reloadable tubes.
    8. “Person” includes an individual, partnership, firm or corporation.
    Sec. 2. Section 36-1609, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
    36-1609. State fire marshal; adoption of code; sale of permissible consumer fireworks
    A. The state fire marshal shall adopt rules pursuant to title 41, chapter 6 to carry out this article, including a rule that adopts the national fire protection association code for the manufacture, transportation, storage and retail sales of fireworks and pyrotechnic articles, 2013 edition as published in August, 2012 NFPA 1124. A person who sells permissible consumer fireworks to the public shall comply with those rules relating to the storage of consumer fireworks and relating to the retail sales of consumer fireworks before selling permissible consumer fireworks to the public.
    B. A person shall not sell or permit or authorize the sale of permissible consumer fireworks to a person who is under sixteen years of age.

  2. Jim Ford said 5 years ago we would burn the whole State down He said in March he was fine with our current law .That’s not true In 2014 he opposed the bill that closed loop holes in the first law but also mandated use . He banned use in 2010 under first law and opposed first law . Jim Ford opposes all fireworks and his office makes vendors do things not required bye law to sell fireworks in Arizona . He also failed to mention multi tube was legal under first law as were firecrackers and i had sold them since day one . Jim Ford listed all these statistics but failed to mention multi tube items AKA cakes are the safest firework has caused fewest injuries . He also failed to mention how many other types of fires there are each year There are more than 45,000 kitchen fires a year lets ban stoves . ATV’S exhaust pipes , Camping , Cigarette fires How many acres burned from non firework fires in Arizona since 2010 over 600,000 from fireworks maybe 1 acre . He says we will keep coming back till we get everything that’s not true either there is only one more item after this law passes and then were done and that will be years down the road …

  3. Let’s not be sissies. There’s very little to burn down here in the valley. People all over currently shoot off illegal fireworks which they smuggle in to our state. This is lost revenue. Give people a little more fun fireworks and that will placate them enough to hopefully prevent a lot of them from bringing in the larger more dangerous and illegal stuff…

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