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Fire Departments Stress Safety Over 4th Weekend

Erin Mairose

Fireworks are on sale in South Dakota as the holiday weekend begins. The Sioux Falls Fire Department is using demonstrations to show what can happen when safety isn’t used with sparklers and artillery fireworks. 

A small watermelon is roughly the size of a human head.  Sioux Fire officials use this comparison when demonstrating what can happen to a person who gets too close to an over the counter artillery shell firework.  

Tyler Tjeerdsma is a fire inspector. He sets a watermelon next to the firework, lights the fuse, and quickly backs away.

After a shower of red sparks, what’s left is pieces of watermelon scattered across a field. Tjeerdsma says sometimes when a firework doesn’t go off, people get too close assuming the fuse has gone out or it’s a dud.

Credit Erin Mairose
Tjeerdsma lights an artillery shell firework next to a watermelon.

 “Then we’ll go out there and look down the tube and sometimes it could still be burning and it could go off right when you’re checking that tube. You can see the affects that it had. When it first came out, the launching component took out the watermelon but also the other component of the actual firework shot off afterwards about five feet off the ground,” says Tjeerdsma.

Tjeerdsma says all fireworks can be dangerous. Even smaller ones like sparklers.

“Everyone thinks they’re really safe and we always give them to young children to use. Sparklers burn at about 1200 degrees and your skin will burn at about 140 to give you a first degree burn,” says Tjeerdsma.

After shooting off fireworks, officials recommend placing them in water.