West Fargo Fire Corner: A look back at the Fourth of July and fire danger

We were fortunate not to have any major medical nor fire related calls during the holiday

West Fargo Fire Marshal Dell Specher instructs sophomore Chase Hapka in using a fire extinguisher March 11 at West Fargo Sheyenne High School. David Samson / The Forum
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We should hear no more complaining about the cold weather, since it has been hot and humid for the last month or so. Very seldom are we so lucky to have 70 degrees with no wind. Just remember, in three months we will be wishing for this weather. I hope all of you have fared well over the Fourth of July.

With July 4, behind us, we have some updates to share. We were fortunate not to have any major medical nor fire related calls during the holiday period. Below are the number of calls by type:

  • Fires: Two grass fires (fireworks related)
  • Medical: Five (non-firework related)
  • Carbon Monoxide alarm: One
  • Motor Vehicle accident: One

All in all, it was a safe fireworks season for the city of West Fargo.
There has been allot of controversy over the use of fireworks within West Fargo since the inception of the city allowing them. Looking at not only safety and fire hazards but from the issues like noise, littering and misuse. I will agree that it sounds like a “war zone” when the sun starts to set. It is remarkable that more people are not injured, considering explosives are being used. Also fires related to fireworks were not as significant as of that in the past. I would hope that the safety aspect had something to do with fire prevention actions and West Fargo Communications department. I am uncertain if allot just plays in the hands of dumb luck.

It seems ironic that we say, “don’t let children light fireworks, let adults (who have been drinking all day) light them."

Granted, not all who light fireworks indulge in alcohol during the holiday celebrations, but statistics show majority of injuries are alcohol related during this time.


Every piece of firework sold has an explosive charge associated with it. Something as simple as a sparkler burns in excess of 2,000 degrees, and we let children use them, as a “safe” option to exploding fireworks. So, what am I trying to say? The majority of individuals enjoy fireworks, myself included. But to be completely honest, should we not leave explosive work for experts such as professional fireworks companies? Even though statistically speaking, for amount of firework related incidents in West Fargo during this occasion seem low. It only takes one incident to take a life or burn a house down.

In the past, we have had major, life changing injuries occur. And our neighboring city of Fargo, had a loss of life due to fireworks. We also have had fires happen because of fireworks within our city. Being a member of a fire department, professionally, I feel the need to advocate for professional use of fireworks. I have seen the devastation fireworks can have when misused, abused or simply accidentally tipped over by accident.

Those that do not work with fire departments or the medical field may have a different point of view.

The average citizen does not see the burn injuries or disfigured hands from those who come to the emergency room due to fireworks. The only time one hears of such tragedy is if it is on the nightly news. Please keep in mind, the news does not report all incidents.

This is just my 2 cents and would be interested in your comments regarding firework usage in West Fargo.

Have a great August, fall is just around the corner.
Fire Marshal Dell Sprecher

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