Fireworks considerations for public entities

In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside/other fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  Hospital rooms treated an estimated 8,600 people for firework related injuries, with the risk of firework injuries the highest for children aged five to 14. Additionally fireworks have been blamed for many wildfires.

That’s why more than ever many governmental entities are encouraging citizens to watch fireworks safely – through public fireworks displays put on by trained pyro-technicians.

If your entity is putting on a fireworks display, there are a number of safety and liability checks to consider before the event. For instance, have the proper permits and license been obtained? Have you checked with your local fire department for approval? Does your display operator carry appropriate insurance coverages and limits of at least one million dollars per occurrence?  If using a contractor, confirm that their insurer has listed your entity as an additional insured. All fireworks contracts should make the pyro-technicians the primary party, and the locality secondary.

These and more questions are included in the VML Insurance Programs (VMLIP) “Special Events Liability Checklist: Fireworks,” available for VMLIP members online.  The checklist contains many questions to help your entity put together the safest event possible for your citizens.

Ensure your locality has included risk management considerations into fireworks display planning

Some other things to think about include informing your citizens of the event and making sure they are aware of the potential hazards of “consumer” fireworks. 

In Virginia:

  • Permitted: Sparklers, fountains, pharaoh’s serpents, pinwheels, and whirligigs.
  • Prohibited: Firecrackers, skyrockets, torpedoes, and other fireworks which explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air.

For more information on fireworks safety, visit the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, the Virginia Department of Forestry, or the National Fire Prevention Association.

VMLIP offers more than just coverage.  We are partners in risk management. How does your insurer stack up?  Having all lines of coverage with VMLIP ensures that your organization is receiving comprehensive coverage and a wide variety of value-added services tailored to Virginia’s local governmental entities.  Call for a quote today: (800) 963-6800.  For more information on VMLIP visit: or follow us on Facebook.

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