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Light Up the Sky Safely: Rhode Island Fireworks Law

In anticipation of statewide Fourth of July celebrations this weekend, Patch provides a briefing of Rhode Island’s fireworks law.

Without a doubt, one of the first things people associate with the Fourth of July are fireworks. Uncle Sam and the red, white, and blue color combination aside, fireworks have become an American tradition for the summer holiday.

Officially, 2011 will mark the first full year of legal consumer fireworks sales in Rhode Island. Sparklers and other varieties of firecrackers available for purchase in hawkers' tents, local supermarkets, and other shops. But before you set one off, there are a few updated laws of which you should be aware.

As declared by the 2010 law, only sparklers and ground devices are legal for consumer purchase in Rhode Island. Under this category falls cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, illuminating torches, ground spinners, and toy smoke devices, among others. The full list can be found at the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal’s Web site.

According to the guidelines, “any firecrackers, rockets, mortars, or any other devices that launch a projectile and/or make a 'bang'/detonation/report are not legal.” This includes all aerial fireworks.

As of June 29, new guidelines have been added regarding multiple tube fireworks devices and pyrotechnic articles.

Sale, possession and use of all types of fireworks are to be under the governance of John Chartier, State Fire Marshal. You must be 16 years of age to purchase and possess fireworks in Rhode Island.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, each Fourth of July there are thousands of people, most often teens and children, injured while using consumer fireworks.The risk of fireworks injury is more than twice as high for children 10-14 than it is for the general population.

The NFPA has released an impressive graphic that details how hot is hot.

Sparklers, which are legal in RI, burn at 1,200° Farenheit, enough to produce 3rd degree burns. To put that in perspective, water boils at 212°F, cakes bake at 350°F, wood burns at 575°F and glass melts at 900°F.

Patch's MaryLou Butler contributed to this report.

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