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National health and safety advocates warn against danger of fireworks

Jonathan Jackson, a track-and-field competitor and US Olympic hopeful, speaks at the NFPA press conference about the dangers of consumer fireworks
Olympic hopeful Jonathan Jackson, who was blinded in one eye by a firework, speaks at the conference
U.S. Olympic hopeful shares story of fireworks injury

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and its Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks hosted a press conference today with the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal's office to warn against the use of consumer fireworks. The event featured Jonathan Jackson, a victim of a childhood fireworks injury that left him blind in one eye.

"The instant that bottle rocket exploded in my face, my life changed forever, and I am still discovering what that means as I encounter and overcome challenges each day," said Jonathan Jackson, U.S. Olympic hopeful and victim of a childhood fireworks injury. "When you use consumer fireworks, you put yourself and others at risk; it's not worth it."

Jackson, from the Dallas, Fort Worth area, is a recent graduate of Texas Christian University where he was a national track and field standout in the men's triple jump event. Many in the sport expected that he would qualify for the last Olympics, but an injury prevented him from competing. Jackson hopes to earn a spot representing the U.S. in the 2012 games.

"Each year, nearly 10,000 people are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries and many of these injuries go hand-in-hand with Fourth of July celebrations," said James M. Shannon, president of NFPA. "A visit to the emergency room is no way to celebrate the birth of our country and it is unacceptable that thousands of people are being injured by a product that is legal in most states. We suggest attending public fireworks displays put on by trained professionals."

A demonstration held at the conference clearly showed the dangers of fireworks such as sparklers when used near flammable clothing
A demonstration showed how fireworks can ignite flammable clothing to damaging effect
According to a newly-released NFPA report, in 2006 fireworks caused an estimated 32,600 reported fires, including 1,700 total structure fires, 600 vehicle fires, and 30,300 outdoor and other fires.

On Independence Day in a typical year, more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.

NFPA is the coordinator and co-founder of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, a national group of health and safety organizations that have joined together to take a stand against the use of consumer fireworks.

Massachusetts is one of only five states that bans all consumer fireworks. The others are Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

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