Talking Points - Fireworks

Key Messages

Even legal fireworks cause injury if used improperly.

It is illegal for individuals to possess commercial grade fireworks.

Illegal devices such as M-80s, cherry bomb, M-100s and M-1000s are not fireworks.  They are bombs that can maim, blind and kill.


"Never buy illegal fireworks, since their quality cannot be guaranteed."


In the Puget Sound, more people are maimed or killed from firework incidents then from any other explosive material.

Common IED:  8” mortar shell with 1.5 lbs of powder.  If it detonates in a car traveling on I-5, it will kill all in the car plus the people in vehicles on either side.  Furthermore, the car will act as a grenade and the shrapnel will impact numerous other vehicles in vicinity.

Trend:  Since 2001, in the Puget Sound area, we have seen illegal firework and explosive devices getting smaller and their prices increasing.  This shows that our efforts are working.

1 lb. Of flash powder = 3 sticks of dynamite.

(Note:  Only need 1 stick to devastate a car)



WA State Patrol - In 2004, there were over 1,100 fireworks-related emergency incidents in WA (919 fires and 191 injuries) resulting in nearly $1 million in property loss. 

CPSC - For product complaints or questions: 1-800-638-2772

Recent ATF Firework Investigations

Ron JOHNSON – Pled Guilty in Aug 2004 for Dealing in Explosive Material without a License.  Sentencing scheduled in Tacoma Federal Court in Aug 2005.

SLAPE – Pled Guilty to Unlawful Dealing in Explosive Material w/o a License.   In May 2004, sentenced in Federal Court to 3 yrs imprisonment.

CHOKE – Convicted of Providing a False Written Statement to Obtain Explosives, and Unlawful Storage of Explosives.  In Aug 2004 he was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day imprisonment in Federal Court.

On May 16, 2005, 14 tons of fireworks were seized at the Port and we are working with our law enforcement partners to ascertain all the facts surrounding this attempted importation.