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(WLNS)– With many 4th of July events canceled in Mid-Michigan amid COVID-19 concerns, officials expect more people will light off their own fireworks.

Meggan Andrews, a Store Manager at Phantom Fireworks in Lansing said they’re already seeing huge increases in sales.

“There’s been more people than what we expected, especially just opening up for one week,” Andrews said.

She added that on their opening day, they sold more than $1,000 worth of fireworks. Andrews said a lot of customers have come in, trying to find alternative plans for the holiday.

“A lot of them have said oh my hometown’s not doing fireworks. For hundreds of years, they had been doing fireworks and now they’re canceled, so now they want to do their own and do it for the community,” Andrews said.

“This year especially with the public displays being canceled, with people being at home with COVID-19, there’s a different sense of urgency in people’s minds… not necessarily that it’s a safe urgency, but they want to get out, they want to spend time with family and friends and we understand that, but safety needs to be at the paramount,” Lt. Michael McLeieer, Past President of the Michigan State Firemen’s Association said.

McLeieer said two out of every five structure fires on the 4th of July or around the holiday are caused by fireworks.

In addition, the latest national data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), shows U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks related injuries in 2017. More than a third of those injuries were children under the age of 15.

That’s why McLeieer said if people do choose to light off fireworks, they should always supervise small children, keep pets inside, and have a metal bucket with water nearby. He added it’s not just the big fireworks you should be careful with.

“There are no truly safe fireworks. Handheld sparklers can burn at least to 1200 sometimes as much as 2000 degrees and they can cause 3rd-degree burns within a matter of 2-3 seconds,” McLeieer said.

He added that Michigan’s fireworks laws have been changed, but local ordinances have a lot more jurisdiction and authority.

“Know when you can use fireworks, know when they’re not allowed,” McLeieer advised.


06-17-2020 Move Over WKZO

Listen to the live interview on June 17th with Firefighter Michael McLeieer from E.S.C.A.P.E. and WKZO Morning Show host Ken Lanphear about Safety Stand Down.

Did you know, according to the United States Fire Administration, twelve percent of on-duty firefighter fatalities occur each year while responding to or returning from incidents, with the majority of fatalities resulting from vehicle crashes?  Vehicle collision is the second leading cause of firefighter fatalities.

Each year during the third week of June, Safety Stand Down highlights critical safety, health and survival issues for the fire and emergency services.  The 2020 Safety Stand Down takes place June 14-20.  This year’s theme calls attention to the hazards that emergency responders face while performing their duties on roadways.  Operating in Michigan’s roadways continues to be some of the most treacherous incident scenes firefighters, police officers and emergency medical service providers respond to.

From 1996 to 2010, vehicle collisions claimed 253 firefighter lives and another 70 firefighters were lost as a result of being struck by a vehicle.  Between 1996 and 2010, vehicle collisions/struck-by-incidents accounted for 22% of all fatalities.

In June 2017, Comstock Township Fire Chief Edward Switalski was hit and killed by a passing vehicle while he was responding to a crash on eastbound I-94 in Kalamazoo County.  According to authorities, the driver of the vehicle was speeding and distracted by his cellphone at the time of the crash and hit Switalski while he was outside of his vehicle.

06-17-2020 switalski_35611519_ver1.0-2

Comstock Township Fire Chief Edward Switalski

“We all need to be alert and avoid reckless and distracted driving so our emergency responders are able to safely return home to their families after every emergency incident,” said Firefighter Michael McLeieer, Past President of the Michigan State Firemen’s Association and President of the non-profit safety organization E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc.

Here’s what you can do to keep you, your family and our emergency responders safe:

  • Avoid distractions while driving.  Distracting activities include using a cell phone and/or texting, eating and drinking, talking to passengers or pets, grooming, reading (including maps), using a navigation system, watching a video, changing the radio station, CD or MP3 player, and loud music.
    • There are three main types of distraction:
      • Visual – taking your eyes off the road
      • Manual – taking your hands off the wheel
      • Cognitive – taking your mind off of what you’re doing
  • If have a minor accident, you’re not seriously injured and your vehicle is able to be driven, move it off the roadway.  Avoid stepping out into traffic.
  • Pull to the right for sirens and lights.  Slow down and pull off the roadway when you see or hear emergency vehicles approaching.
  • Slow Down! And Move Over.  Motorists are required to slow down and move over for stationary emergency vehicles when their lights are activated.  This includes fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, tow truck operators, solid waste haulers, utility service vehicles and road service and maintenance vehicles.  If a motorist is unable to move over into an adjacent lane, then Michigan law requires the motorist to slow down to at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit and pass with caution, giving the emergency vehicle as much room as possible.

E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety urges Michiganders to focus on your driving and avoid distractions so you, your passengers and our emergency responders can remain safe and injury free!

For more information on the 2020 Safety Stand Down, visit


In a typical year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) encourages the public to only attend public fireworks displays put on by trained professionals, reflecting its’ long-standing position against consumer use of fireworks. However, with public fireworks events around the country being canceled this year, NFPA is vigorously discouraging individuals’ use of consumer fireworks, recognizing that the likelihood of such activities may increase in the absence of public displays.

“While fireworks are an emblem of July 4 celebrations, in the absence of public displays this year, we strongly encourage people to find safe and creative alternatives for celebrating the holiday,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “Fireworks are simply too dangerous and unpredictable to be used safely by consumers. Even sparklers, which are often considered harmless enough for children, burn as hot as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause third-degree burns.”

In addition to the harm consumer fireworks can inflict on individuals, Carli notes that fireworks’ incidents place undue burdens on first responders and emergency room staff.

“First responders and our health care services have been working tirelessly to protect the public throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carli. “A great way for people to show their support is to avoid consumer use of fireworks and help minimize the number of avoidable incidents that require response and care.”

Fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 non-occupational fireworks related injuries; burns accounted for 44 percent of the fireworks injuries seen in the month around July 4. Half of the fireworks injuries seen at emergency rooms around the month of July 4, 2018 were to extremities, particularly the hand or finger, or leg. One-third were to the eye or other parts of the head. Children ages 10-14 had the highest rate of fireworks injury, with more than one-third (36 percent) of the victims of fireworks injuries in this period under age 15.

“Fireworks cause thousands of needless fires and injuries each year,” said Carli. “By simply choosing not to use consumer fireworks, these types of incidents can be easily prevented, lessening the strain on already overtaxed first responders and emergency room workers.”

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