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Tragic end to DIYer with fireworks

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Perry_3
Perry_3 Member Posts: 498
I hold a blasters license for commercial explosives use.

I was interested in commercial fireworks and checked it out.

Every year people get killed with commercial fireworks displays.... and their are two common causes.

Item 1) Fuse technology is still used. You really don't know when the fuse is going to do its job. Most work right, but some can take up to an hour.

Use of blasting caps to detonate the mortor charge would cost $2 to $3 extra per fireworks charge (many of which sell in the $5 to $10 dollar range now, the larger ones are more expensive).

Note I am not talking about the electric squbs used to light some fuses. There should be a blasting cap inserted directly into the black powder mortar charge.

It would save countless injuries and deaths each year too.

Item 2) People fire most fireworks very close to the fireworks.... and not back several hundred feet and behind a bunker (perhaps with a bullet proof type window).

I helped shoot one small local fireworks.... I cannot believe all the unsafe acts I saw... and when a person was injured they kept the show going instead of calling an ambulance.

I want nothing to do with commercial fireworks. I can have a lot more fun.... and much more safer fun... using real explosives and if desired real small rocket engines...

The very technology they are based on is virtually banned from the comercial explosives industry - which almost never has a serious injury. There are newer and safer technologies out there for doing the same thing - they cost a bit more and take the "amatures" out of the picture.


Why are old fashioned fireworks with all of their injuries and deaths allowed to still occur... Becasue fireworks are "entertainment." If they were regulated as a working device such as explosives are.... Fireworks shows would cost more money to put on; but would be vastly safer.

Perry

Comments

  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
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    Senseless

    What's the point? Call me old and over-cautious but I just don't get it. Fireworks are fun to watch but just plain stupid to operate:

    http://www.wxyz.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=24a1ace9-da65-4ad7-8beb-dbe68affe8f3
  • Ted_9
    Ted_9 Member Posts: 1,718
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    wow

    imagine the horror her kids will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

    That's why if you have kids, be careful!

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  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
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    Wrong to have

    that type of firework in the hands of amuaters !!

    She leaned over the display ???? Don't want to speal ill of the dead but .........

    Scott

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  • Ed Lentz_2
    Ed Lentz_2 Member Posts: 158
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    I think the FIRST thing they teach you at fireworks school is to NOT bend over the 3" mortar. It is bad enough that they had one of those things but to have 25? I also feel for the kids and the rest of her family. Just terrible.
  • Unknown
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    Nasty,

    probably blew her head off right in front of her kids. Like someone else said, I hate to speak ill of the dead but...
  • Maine Doug_65
    Maine Doug_65 Member Posts: 24
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    I guess many things

    would fit into this catagory.

    >>>Why are old fashioned fireworks with all of their injuries and deaths allowed to still occur... Becasue fireworks are "entertainment." If they were regulated as a working device such as explosives are.... Fireworks shows would cost more money to put on; but would be vastly safer.<<<

    IIRC, about 6000 teenagers die every year in vehicle crashes. Hmmm, already regulated. Alcohol related? Also already regulated. Perhaps skill? Well, one must pass a test and be licensed...

    But the fireworks in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore were just spectatular on Wed. Watched them from onboard a tug.
  • Steve Ebels_3
    Steve Ebels_3 Member Posts: 1,291
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    I did a little research..........

    Out of curiosity, I did a little research on what type exactly, the "fireworks" that killed this lady were. From the reports that I found, what she stuck her head over the top of is referred to as a "cake". These cakes are multiple tube packages, 25 in this instance, that ignite from a single fuse and discharge progressively until empty. Many times you'll see these used as part of a Grand Finale where you have many shots in the air at the same time. They come in various diameter tubes, usually from 2" to 3". What she had in her possesion appeared to be the 3" variety. The projectile in each tube weighs over a half pound and discharges at a velocity of about 400 feet per second. If she took a direct hit from this, she would never have known what hit her. There would have been very little left of her head.

    This type of firework display is classed as an explosive device and already regulated heavily. The manufacturer can't sell them to anyone unless you have an explosives license or are a unit of government using them for their intended purpose. Even then the government unit has to have someone with an explosives license actually discharge them. How this person came to be in possession of these is a matter of great interest to the authorities and there will most certainly be charges brought if they discover who supplied them to her. She obviously, has already paid a rather steep price for some illegal "fun".

    So, why am I sharing all these gory details about an extremely sad event? To help spread the word that these devices are nothing to be trifled with. As a fireman and township clerk, I have been involved with our July 4th celebration and fireworks display for about 30 years.
    for our single shot rounds up to 6" diameter, we use steel mortar tubes which are buried full length in the ground to prevent the recoil from tipping the tube over. (Tipping is what killed the guy at the Charlevoix festival a few years back John) When we use a "cake", we anchor it to a welded frame to keep everything aligned in a safe direction while discharging. Railroad flares attached to a 5 foot rod are what we use for an ignition source allowing us to stay a safe distance away from the mortar. If a shell fails to discharge, the tube is flooded and left until things are packed up the following morning. I have enormous respect for the power of these explosives and the damage they can do when handled carelessly or in an unsafe manner. We have never had an accident since our town started doing this in 1959. Fireworks of this class should never be handled unless you have specific training in doing so. If your buddy says, "HEY, I got some ginormous fireworks let's set 'em off!!....Just walk away. They are not "toys"!!

  • Steve Ebels_3
    Steve Ebels_3 Member Posts: 1,291
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    I did a little research..........

    Out of curiosity, I did a little research on what type exactly, the "fireworks" that killed this lady were. From the reports that I found, what she stuck her head over the top of is referred to as a "cake". These cakes are multiple tube packages, 25 in this instance, that ignite from a single fuse and discharge progressively until empty. Many times you'll see these used as part of a Grand Finale where you have many shots in the air at the same time. (We had 108 2 1/2" and 75 3" shots in our this year) They come in various diameter tubes, usually from 2" to 3". What she had in her possesion appeared to be the 3" variety. The projectile in each tube weighs over a half pound and discharges at a velocity of about 400 feet per second. If she took a direct hit from this, she would never have known what hit her. There would have been very little left of her head.

    This type of firework display is classed as an explosive device and already regulated heavily. The manufacturer or distributor can't sell them to anyone unless you have an explosives license or are a unit of government using them for their intended purpose. Even then the government unit has to have someone with an explosives license actually discharge them. How this person came to be in possession of these is a matter of great interest to the authorities and there will most certainly be charges brought if they discover who supplied them to her. She obviously, has already paid a rather steep price for some illegal "fun".

    So, why am I sharing all these gory details about an extremely sad event? To help spread the word that these devices are nothing to be trifled with. As a fireman and township clerk, I have been involved with our July 4th celebration and fireworks display for about 30 years.
    For our single shot rounds up to 6" diameter, we use steel mortar tubes which are buried full length in the ground to prevent the recoil from tipping the tube over. (Tipping is what killed the guy at the Charlevoix festival a few years back John) When we use a "cake", we anchor it to a welded frame to keep everything aligned in a safe direction while discharging. Railroad flares attached to a 5 foot rod are what we use for an ignition source allowing us to stay a safe distance away from the mortar. If a shell fails to discharge,(almost unheard of) the tube is flooded and left until things are packed up the following morning. Larger displays used in the big cities are usually set off electronically as Perry has alluded to.

    I have enormous respect for the power of these explosives and the damage they can do when handled carelessly or in an unsafe manner. We have never had an accident since our town started doing this in 1959. Fireworks of this class should never be handled unless you have specific training in doing so. If your buddy says, "HEY, I got some ginormous fireworks let's set 'em off!!....Just walk away. They are not "toys"!!
  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_2
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    working security at the BSA National Jamboree

    I was attached to the Presidential Security Force (by accident). Bad weather caused the pres to miss Jambo that year, but when we returned to the areana, I was stationed at one of the three fireworks areas. In the darkness, I thought I saw movement at the mortar tube array - well behind the secured area. I alerted the other two security guards & together, we hit the shadowy figure with our lights. Darkness turned to daylight - only to reveal a Scout using a mortar tube for a urinal! I'm reasonably sure he stained the other side when he realized, immediately, where he was(G).

    When the fireworks were shot off (remotely), we were only about 50-yards away, which cured my long-term desire to be the guy with a punk stick setting off 6" tubes! No way I'd want to be beside one of those percussions, much less the showers of sparks.

    Damn shame she died and far worse for the kids. No matter how dumb that is in hindsight, it's a heartbreaker to contemplate.

    We were in Bayfield, WI over the 4th on the shores of Lake Superior. An Indian Reservation is only a few miles away & they could legally sell us some 2" thumpers. We had a thumping good time, but were very careful and gave each one plenty of respect. Five tubes and one that failed to thump. It sat out overnight untouched. Turned out the fuse went out with lots left to fizz.
  • Steve Ebels_3
    Steve Ebels_3 Member Posts: 1,291
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    Indians

    I'm wondering if that may be where they came from. You can legally buy all sorts of contraband fireworks on a reservation here in Michigan. It's just illegal to shoot them off.

    Hmmmmm. What could possibly go wrong with that scenario?

    This is a completely different topic but it seems to me that it makes very little sense to allow a group of people to live autonomously within the USA. Especially since the laws enabling those circumstances were drafted about 150 years ago. Talk to some of the charter captains in Lake Michigan about gill netting and how little oversight the DNR provides. Now THAT is a good story for an investigative reporter to take on!!

    I feel another rant coming on.....time to hit the hay.
  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_2
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    and now for something completely different!

    While entering the fireworks building, I spied a window A/C unit keeping the cashier cool. The only problem? The entire unit was inside the room - sitting on a nearby table! It was a hot day & that room was quite warm. In my mind, I was contemplating the heat-energy=temp-rise calculation, but quickly distracted as others in our group delighted in their pyrotechnics discoveries. Well, at least the cashier was cool(G).

    The older Native gent was quite nice & threw in some freebies for our lads.

    We skipped the casino.

    Interesting and lively discussions followed for days regarding Indian history in the US. Imagine being in their moccasins........
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
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    Call me cold, but while I have the greatest sympathy for her children--who even saw it happen--I have a hard time finding sympathy for any adult who suffers such a fate due to their own stupidity. Even ignorance couldn't be used as an excuse as she certainly knew that what she had was FAR from your garden variety firework.

    I did some pretty stupid things as a kid with fireworks involving dissected M-80s, golf ball jackets, duct tape, and the highway across from the golf course, but still not approaching the commercial-grade materials in this instance. Thankfully nobody was injured and no property damage--just some freaked out drivers. It's a good thing to grow out of youthful stupidity--however lame an excuse it makes...
  • Joe Brix
    Joe Brix Member Posts: 626
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    Two words......

    ........"Darwin Award"
  • Ed Lentz_2
    Ed Lentz_2 Member Posts: 158
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    I thought about making a comment about "Thinning the herd" but thought it might be in poor taste. It is tragic for the kids.
  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246
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    No law enforcement

    The law only enforces the fireworks ban when someone is hurt or killed. If it becomes an airborne projectile it is illegal in Michigan. I have never seen even an amateur fireworks display in Michigan where the entertainment consisted of sparklers, firecrackers, and M-80s. Sales are on every other street corner and enforcement is a joke.
  • Jeff Lawrence_25
    Jeff Lawrence_25 Member Posts: 746
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    Interesting

    As I was driving away from a call, I noticed this in a trash pile....

    I included the same picture, but left one full sized. See if y'all can read what the packaging says.

    Hope everyone had a happy one.

  • mwsmith
    mwsmith Member Posts: 10
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    i guess you forgot whose country this was .....

This discussion has been closed.