Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, BSO Bomb Squad and the State Fire Marshal’s Office demonstrate the dangers of fireworks at Broward Fire Academy on Wednesday. A watermelon rigged with an illegal firework was placed in the lap of a mannequin and detonated by Bomb Squad Technicians. The blast blew the melon to pieces and the concussion blew the mannequin and chair over.  Photos by Mike Jachles/Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue

With the Fourth of July holiday weekend fast approaching, the Broward Sheriff’s Office Fire Marshal’s Bureau, BSO Bomb Squad and the Florida State Fire Marshal once again demonstrated the dangers of fireworks and the destruction they can cause.

On a typical Independence Day, more fires are reported in the United States than on any other day. Over 10,000 fireworks related injuries are also reported each year, with over half of those occurring to children, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

For a safe holiday, Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti has this message, “If you want to see fireworks, leave it to the professionals.” Consider attending one of the many public fireworks displays throughout the area. Sheriff Lamberti added, “The last thing we want to see is a child get burned or lose fingers from fireworks.”

There are no legal consumer fireworks in Florida. Only sparklers are legal for consumer use and can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt gold – and can cause serious burns or permanent disfigurement. Broward Sheriff Fire Marshal Charles Raiken cautioned, “When things go wrong with fireworks, they go very wrong, very fast.”  Just minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day 2009, a 41-year-old Broward County man was killed while detonating fireworks in his backyard.

As for “celebratory gunfire,” it is against the law to fire a gun in the air – falling bullets have killed people in South Florida.



Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Lt. Jim Neylon keeps a watchful eye on a Christmas tree after lighting it during a safety demonstration at the Broward Fire Academy Monday morning. The Broward Sheriff Fire Marshal’s Bureau and the Florida State Fire Marshal conducted the demonstration to show how quickly an under-watered tree can ignite. Additionally, homemade holiday decorations can be a fire hazard. Consumers should keep the trees watered, use approved lights and decorations and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. “You should avoid overloading outlets, as this is a common cause of fires, especially during the holiday season,” said Broward Sheriff Fire Marshal and Dep. Chief Charles Raiken. He added, “Christmas week is the peak time for tree fires, so we want to remind folks to make safety a priority.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one out of every 22 Christmas tree fires in the home resulted in death. Some additional tips for maintaining a fire-safe tree are: always unplug tree lights before leaving home or going to bed, never use lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections, never use lit candles as tree decorations or place them near trees, water trees daily and if you have an artificial tree, make sure it is fire-retardant. Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are highly flammable and should not be left in the house or garage, or placed against the house. Lastly, always watch children when they are around the tree, and keep pets away from the tree.

Photo by Mike Jachles/Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue

BSO Fire Rescue turkey fryer demo

Firefighter/Paramedic Al Mecias lowers a frozen turkey into an overheated pot of oil in a turkey fryer at the Broward Fire Academy on Monday. The safety demonstration showed the potential dangers of using turkey fryers incorrectly. Broward Sheriff’s Office Fire Marshal Charles Raiken said , “We urge those people who enjoy deep fried turkey to purchase one prepared by a professional, like a grocery store or restaurant. The risks of consumer grade turkey fryers are evident and can cause serious burn injuries or fires.” “What you have is a large quantity of hot oil in a pot that can splash, tip or get knocked over,” added Chief Raiken.

On Sunday, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue responded to a turkey fryer that caught fire in Cooper City. According to Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Spokesman Mike Jachles, an unattended turkey fryer outside the home caught fire after it was left on to preheat and the resident went back into the house. When he returned later, he discovered the fire and called 9-1-1. Firefighters put the fire out with a dry chemical extinguisher. “An unattended cooking device, too close to the house could have caused much more damage. The oil was so hot that the fire re-ignited even after it was extinguished. Fortunately, our firefighters responded quickly and mitigated the situation,” said Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles. “This is a classic example of the potential danger of these fryers.” According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking fires are more likely to occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other time of the year.

Some safety tips for those who insist on using the fryers are: Use them outdoors, on a flat surface a safe distance from buildings. Never use in, on or under a garage, breezeway porch or wooden deck. Do not leave the fryer unattended while in use. Keep children and pets away from the fryer. Wear long-sleeved clothing, eye protection and oven mitts. Lower (and raise) the turkey slowly into the oil. Use a thermometer and monitor it. Make sure the turkey is fresh or fully-thawed and dry. The water from a frozen or wet bird can cause a fire or splash-over of the oil. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do not overfill with oil. Even after it’s off, oil can remain dangerously hot. Have an approved type fire extinguisher nearby. Never put water on a grease fire. For more safety tips, visit the BSO website at: