Ahead of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office urges Tennesseans to consider the financial and physical risks that can arise from fireworks-related mishaps.
Accidental fires or damages caused by fireworks in a Tennessee municipality that bans fireworks may not be covered by traditional homeowners or renters insurance policies thus putting the financial burden of making repairs solely on the shoulders of consumers.
Additionally, consumer fireworks pose a hazard to Tennesseans’ health and safety. Records show 159 total fires were started in 2020 by fireworks causing $980,405 in direct property damage in Tennessee as well as injuries to one civilian and five firefighters.
This year, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance reminds consumers to remember the risks that come from consumer fireworks.
Know the Financial, Legal, and Safety Risks from Fireworks
Many insurance policies contain provisions disclaiming coverage for illegal acts committed by the insured. However, consumers who experience property damage due to another person’s use of fireworks may be able to claim benefits under their homeowners or renter’s policy.
Several counties and cities in the Volunteer State have ordinances and restrictions related to fireworks usage. Before purchasing or detonating fireworks, TDCI urges residents to check with their local police or fire department to determine local laws about fireworks.
In addition to local laws, Tennessee has several state laws pertaining to fireworks:
*A 2007 Tennessee law prevents children under 16 from purchasing fireworks. Those who are 16 or 17 must present a photo ID to purchase fireworks.
*State legislation passed in 2011 reclassified sky lanterns as special fireworks exclusively for use by individuals with a professional license. The general public cannot purchase or use sky lanterns. If a sky lantern is found in the possession of someone who does not have a professional license issued by the SFMO, the device can be confiscated and destroyed.
*A law passed in 2015 prohibits flying a drone (an unmanned aircraft) above an outdoor ticketed event with more than 100 people, or in the vicinity of a fireworks display site, without the permission of the event operator.
If consumer fireworks are legal where you live in Tennessee and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these safety tips:
*Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks.
*Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
*Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
*Wear eye protection.
*Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
*Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals.
*Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials.
*Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
*Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
*Sparklers are not toys and cause hundreds of injuries every year. Sparklers burn hot, can reach temperatures as high as 1,200°F, and stay hot after they’ve burned out.