By Fire Marshal, Paul L. Dove

paul dove

The National Fire Protection Association recently came out with a news release calling for public comments regarding potential changes to NFPA 1124 Code for the Manufacture, Transportation, Storage, and Retail Sales of Fire works and Pyrotechnic Articles, 2006 Edition 

This call for public comments was brought about by the completion of an October 2007 research report completed by Schirmer Engineering Corporation for the Fire Protection Research Foundation and was sponsored by NFPA.


The Fire Protection Research Foundation

Fire Safety in Consumer Fire Works Storage and Retail Facilities
Hazard Assessment Research Project, October 2007

Once again the “hot topic” of retail sales and storage of consumer fireworks comes to the forefront.  Over the years I have had the opportunity to be involved with some very spirited discussion, debate and code development meetings associated to this hot topic.  I have had an opportunity to review empirical data and documentation on full-scale fire tests.   I must say that the video documentation witnessed is extremely dramatic and eye opening.  Being a fire prevention official, naturally I remain very concerned when it comes to this topic. 

Personally, I do not support the retail sales of consumer fireworks and strongly support a position that fireworks should be enjoyed and viewed by the public at safe distances.  Only professional experienced pyrotechnical engineers should ignite and/or display these dangerous flammable devices.  The burning issue (no pun intended) among many is what devices if any are safe for our public.  Here are some areas where enforcers have real concerns relating to retail sales and storage of consumer fireworks:



The report while being very informative, suggests the need for further tests, examination and scientific fact gathering to develop future codes.  The model codes address fireworks and reference NFPA 1124 but according to the report there is non-sufficient scientific evidence to conclude that the code’s currently developed are based on this recommended evidence.


Information detailed in this report informs the reader that there are real concerns with occupant tenability where full-scale fire tests have been conducted.  The report also details problems with fire sprinkler system types and design methods for smoke and heat ventilation systems.  This report is a must read for anyone who wishes to further educate themselves on consumer fireworks.


Currently many jurisdictions permit the retail sales of consumer fireworks and we as fire officials cringe twice a year when the majority of these devices are sold to the public.  The time has come again for us to speak up.


The potentials being contemplated by the NFPA Standards Council are far more reaching; in essence, if approved NFPA 101 and the Uniform Fire Code will also be affected, whereas both codes extract requirements from 1124.


Extraction from NFPA News Release:

The National Fire Protection Association’s Standards Council will be holding a public hearing on Monday June 2, 2008 from 8:00 am until 11:00 am in conjunction with NFPA’s World Safety Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, NV to consider this matter. Interested parties should be aware of the following additional information. 

Written Submissions. Parties wishing to make written submissions for the Council’s consideration should send them to the attention of the Secretary of the Standards Council at one of the following addresses: by regular mail, at:

Codes and Standards Administration
One Batterymarch Park
Quincy, MA 02169

Electronic Submissions: Email submissions or public comments no later than May 26th 2008 to:

Regardless of whether or not parties wish to appear at the hearing, all written submissions must be received by NFPA no later than May 9, 2008.

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Fire Marshal Dove has served twenty-one years in the professional fire service.  He is the past president of the Michigan Fire Inspector’s Society and served as Code Committee Chairmen for ten years.  He is a former principle member of the NFPA Life Safety Code and Building Code Technical Committee on Fire Protection Features and former member of the NFPA North Central Fire Code Development Committee.  He holds and maintains thirteen national and multi-state professional certifications as Fire Officer, Inspector, Plan Reviewer and Investigator.