May 23, 2018
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Orland voters should ban fireworks

George Danby | BDN
George Danby | BDN
By Michael Paige, Special to the BDN

There are many facts you should know about the use of fireworks and the severe damage they cause.

Fireworks are classified as hazardous substances under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission estimates that in 2012 about 8,700 people were treated by hospitals for firework-related injuries. The injuries include burns to the head, face, eyes and ears. About 2,000 were children under age 15, and 500 were children under 4 years old.

About 46 percent of fireworks-related injuries occur to those under age 20. And about 30 percent of injuries occur to children younger than 15.

The commission lists 40 states that allow some or all types of consumer fireworks. There are four states with outright bans on the use of all types of consumer fireworks: New York, Delaware, Massachusetts and New Jersey. These states still report consumer fireworks-related injuries.

Three recent deaths were caused by fireworks (all males, ages 17, 30 and 60). The 17-year-old died because he created a sparkler bomb that exploded. The 30-year-old died when the device did not explode as expected and was delayed; he died of brain injuries six days later. The third man, a 60-year-old, made a homemade device that exploded unexpectedly; he died of blunt force trauma.

You are placing a child in severe danger when you hand him or her a sparkler. You’re handing that child a torch that burns at 2,000 degrees.

The Maine State Fire Marshal’s report issued March 14 discussed in some detail the legalization and use of consumer fireworks. In 2012 there were 16 consumer fireworks retail facilities in various locations around Maine, and that number increased in 2013. As of 2012, 56 towns had adopted ordinances; more towns adopted them later.

Obviously, since the legalization of consumer fireworks, there has been an increase in firework-related fires. In total, between 2010 and 2012, there have been 119 fires, according to the Maine State Forest Service.

This does not include 11 other residential fires between Feb. 28 and July 22, 2012, as reported by the Maine Fire Incident Reporting System. One fire’s estimated loss was $60,000. In addition a firefighter was injured.

The fire marshal’s office has received many complaints from residents. “Some Maine residents were upset that the noise was ruining the peace and quiet they once enjoyed, or it was keeping children up at night, and disturbed wild and domesticated animals,” according to the report.

Others expressed concerns about their safety and that of their family. The office “always recommended talking to the neighbor about it first and if that didn’t succeed perhaps calling the local law enforcement officials to facilitate such a discussion,” the report states.

Trip Advisor has posted a forum that shows many who vacationed in Maine this summer found fireworks disturbing, and many are not booking their next vacation in Maine. In fact, this forum is titled, “Looking for lake areas in Maine where fireworks are banned.” There is a concern that “Vacationland” will become an amusement park for fireworks.

Hundreds of Orland residents fail to see the excitement and the need to have commercial fireworks available for use. They understand the danger and destruction that commercial fireworks can cause and ask, “Why is it necessary at all?!”

We, as residents of Orland, have an opportunity to prevent wildfires, protect the wildlife — including loons and other waterfowl — stop pollution of our ponds, lakes and streams, and save someone from the serious injury or even death cause by consumer fireworks.

Vote yes on Question 2.

The ballot will read on Nov. 5: “Shall the town of Orland vote to prohibit the discharge or display of any consumer fireworks or any other fireworks in the town of Orland, except on the 4th of July of any year.”

Let’s return peace and quiet to the town of Orland. Vote yes on Question 2.

Michael Paige lives in Orland.

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