ELLSWORTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Nearly 12,000 people are injured every year in the U.S. by fireworks, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In Maine, consumer fireworks were only legalized back in 2011, allowing hundreds to pour into stores across the state ahead of July 4th weekend.
“I've probably done myself personally 700 shows,” Steve Marson said.
Marson, owner of Pyro City locations across the state, also puts on commercial shows across New England, and has been in the business for more than 40 years.
He said this is the busy time of year for all of his businesses. But a new technology has gained more popularity and he hopes it makes consumer fireworks safer to use.
“It’s connecting to the Bluetooth on their phone,” he said as he demonstrated the Firefly device.
It is a simple central battery-powered hub that connects to as many as 15 devices by wire to the fuses on each device. That hub then connects to an app on the users mobile device where they can control all of the fireworks from a safe distance.
Marson said the user can even program shows and set them to music. The app also includes various levels of safety precautions—requiring multiple steps before one can even launch a firework.
"Technology can make it a lot safer because you can activate and deploy the fireworks from a safer distance,” Ellsworth Fire Chief Richard Tupper said.
Tupper, who was cautiously optimistic about the new device, warned that no technology can replace the responsibility required by the individual.
He recommended the following:
1) Always have a water source nearby—a garden house or even buckets of water.
2) If the firework does not fire properly (is a ‘dud’) stay away from it for at least 20 minutes the soak it in water.
3) Under no circumstances are fireworks safe for kids to play with.
"They're not toys at all at the end of day they're an explosive device and that says it all right there,” Tupper said.
Marson urges all of his customers to adhere to the manufacturing directions and warnings on each box, but is optimistic that the new technology will allow for a safer experience for those familiar with and new to consumer fireworks.
"You know the technology is here today to make it safe for people to do stuff and that's the whole key,” Marson said.
You should check with your town or city officer to ensure you are following your local ordinances before using pyrotechnics where you live. Most municipalities have the information available online.