MAINE, USA — With Independence Day right around the corner, and with the COVID-19 pandemic leading to the cancellation of many public fireworks celebrations throughout Maine, cities and towns across the state are reminding residents of their specific laws concerning consumer fireworks.
The Portland Fire Department is reminding citizens and visitors of the city that purchasing or using consumer fireworks is prohibited in Portland. Fines of at least $200 apply for individuals intending to use fireworks within the city.
Cities like Augusta, Portland, and Bangor all prohibit both the sale and use of consumer fireworks. In Lewiston and Ellsworth, however, people may use them under certain circumstances as defined by the town or city's specific ordinance.
If a municipality has not adopted a consumer fireworks ordinance to prohibit or restrict the sale of consumer fireworks, then state law would apply.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires across the U.S. 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.
“Professional fireworks shows have been a mainstay of July 4th celebrations for many years in Portland. In the absence of this years public display, we strongly encourage people to find safe and creative alternatives for celebrating the holiday,” Portland Fire Chief Keith Gautreau said.
Sparklers are legal, but are very hot and should be used with extreme caution when around other people. If a child is using sparklers, the Portland Fire Department says a responsible adult must be present.
Here are some safety tips from the Portland Fire Department to reduce the risk of starting or spreading a fire:
- No outdoor burning is allowed if the winds are greater than 15 mph and/or the State Forest Service has classified the fire danger as more than a class 1 or 2 day.
- Make sure you are meeting the proper distances from structures and property lines as outlined by your town or city
- Do not store or put combustible materials too close to the fire.
- A responsible adult over the age of 18 shall always be in attendance while the fire is burning.
- Always have a method of extinguishment available at the time of burning such as a fire extinguisher or garden hose.
- Only burn clean, dry, cord type firewood. No burning of trash, construction materials, leaves, brush and deadwood from tree cuttings.
- Always make sure the fire is extinguished before leaving it.