Summertime safety: firework and open burn restrictions in the Valley

Published: May. 29, 2023 at 11:56 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Some call Memorial Day the unofficial start to summer. As backyard barbecues and pool parties become more common, so will activities like fireworks and bonfires.

Local fire officials remind you of the protocols attached to such activities. Both the state of Virginia and each individual locality has their own set of rules regarding fireworks and open controlled burns. However, when it comes to fireworks most counties and cities fall in line with the state laws.

Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code Act classified all firecrackers, torpedos, skyrockets, or similar item as a firework. Additionally, it prohibits any fireworks that explode, move around in the air, or shoot outward.

Harrisonburg Fire Chief Matthew Tobia said even ones that seem safe can still be dangerous.

”One of the most common fireworks that children are exposed to every year is sparklers. But they burn at an incredibly high temperature of over 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. They can cause burns instantaneously,” he said.

Chief Tobia said over a third of firework-related injuries happened to children under 15.

“We like to say we want to leave the fireworks to the professionals. Every year over 19,000 people nationwide are injured with firework-related injuries,” he said. “They can lead to unintentional and potential catastrophic incidences.”

When it comes to open burning, like a bonfire, Tobia recommended people to contact their local fire department as these laws differ based on location.

Burn ordinances in the Shenandoah Valley