Stick figure fireworks safety

I’m thinking the BLM did not waste a lot of money producing this 36-second public service announcement, but I like it, and it could be effective. Nicely done, BLM!

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(UPDATE at 11:18 a.m. PT, July 1, 2015)

After we posted the video, Kevin Conran of the BLM left this comment:

Thank you for the compliments on our PSAs. As you surmised this was very low cost to produce. It was actually produced by a local high school student. We hosted a contest among the high school speech/communications classes and challenged them to produce PSAs aimed at reaching their age group.

Trial begins for man accused of starting Bear Trap 2 Fire

Bear Trap 2 Fire
Bear Trap 2 Fire. Inciweb photo by Ken Harris.

A trial began on Monday in Virginia City, Montana for a man facing multiple felony counts for allegedly starting the Bear Trap 2 Fire west of Bozeman, Montana in June, 2012. Kyler Schmitz is accused of starting the fire when fireworks he was using ignited vegetation, ultimately burning 15,341 acres of private, Bureau of Land Management, and State owned land. The fire cost more than $1.2 million to suppress.

BLM may ban fireworks in Colorado

In a surprising announcement, the Bureau of Land Management is proposing to ban all fireworks on the 8.3 million acres of land it manages in Colorado. The surprising part is that they have been allowing fireworks at all. Current BLM rules in the state only prohibit fireworks in developed campgrounds and on a seasonal basis when there is high fire danger.

If the new policy is adopted, it will bring the BLM rules in line with other land management agencies in the state.

The public can comment on the proposal until August 9. Wildfire Today’s comment: yes, ban fireworks. Geeze. You had to ask?

Arizona approves fireworks, bans human-animal hybrids

Florida used to be the state that produced weird news, but recently it has been Arizona that has been capturing the headlines. Governor Jan Brewer recently signed into law dozens of bills, one of which allows the sale of certain kinds of fireworks, including ground and hand-held devices such as sparklers, spinning wheels, and smoke devices. The law bans fireworks intended to rise above the ground, such as bottle rockets or roman candles. It allows cities to ban the use of fireworks within their boundaries. Bobby Ruiz, an Assistant Chief for the Phoenix Fire Department said, “Now, we’re going to have more kids with matches and playing with fireworks that put out a lot of sparks and easily ignite dry vegetation.”

Another law signed by the governor bans the use of human embryos for creating “human-animal hybrids”.  Whew. I’m glad she took care of that issue.

BC fire chiefs aim to totally ban all fireworks

An article at ArrowLakesNews.com covers the effort to ban all fireworks in British Columbia:

The Fire Chiefs’ Association of British Columbia (FCABC) is trying to ban fireworks permanently throughout the province, and after much debate, the Nakusp council will not be sending a letter of support.

Bruce Mabin, zone four director of the FCABC, wrote that a bylaw should be drafted in each area around the Kootenays banning the sale and distribution entirely.

“It is our belief that the annual increased level for wildland fires each year in our areas makes the use of consumer fireworks a constant threat for instigation of a wildfire,” he wrote.

Nakusp fire chief Terry Warren said it’s just not worth it, because in his opinion the risk isn’t worth the reward.

“They’re just too dangerous,” he said. “The biggest issue is in the fire-ban season, when people from other provinces see these fireworks for sale and start setting them off. It’s a problem throughout the province.”

According to the FCABC, 8,000 children are injured and 20 people die each year in North America from improper fireworks use.

Roughly 120 amputations occur annually to the hands and fingers.

The rest of the article is here.

Wildfire Today has written about the fireworks problem many times.

Mount Rushmore July 4th fireworks canceled due to fire danger

The annual 4th of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore, which in the past has started fires and littered the ground with tons of fireworks debris, is being cancelled this year. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is surrounded by 1,200 acres of forested lands within the Memorial’s boundary, but it is adjacent to the Black Hills National Forest’s Black Elk Wilderness, in which most of the trees have been recently killed by pine beetles.

The National Park Service is saying the fireworks are being cancelled because of the risk of fire caused by the fireworks in the beetle-killed fuels. Navnit Singh, chief of interpretation and education at the memorial, said Wednesday:

The condition of the forest is such that, unlike any other year before, there is a greater risk of a wildfire growing into a catastrophic fire, because there’s more dead forest close to the park than any other previous year.

I was the Fire Management Officer for Mount Rushmore and six other parks during the first four years that fireworks were used on Independence Day at the Memorial. I developed a plan that would require that the weather and fuel conditions be within certain parameters before the fireworks could be used. We continued to refine the plan each year, settling on Probably of Ignition as one of the primary factors on the go/no-go checklist, especially after the fireworks started about 10 fires one year. All of the fires were small and were suppressed by the 60-80 firefighters we had positioned in the forest around the sculpture. One year the fireworks were cancelled because of the fire danger.

Mount Rushmore fireworks embers hitting ground
The Mount Rushmore Society conveniently has this photo on their web site, showing the Mount Rushmore fireworks with burning embers hitting the ground. Photo: South Dakota Tourism

In my humble opinion, igniting fireworks over and around Mount Rushmore is no way to treat the memorial, the sculpture, and the natural resources around the Memorial. The fireworks are disrespectful to the significance of the Memorial, they leave millions of pieces of debris that can never be picked up, they start fires, and tie up firefighting resources during a busy period of the fire season.