Fireworks Safety from a Pro

Ask an Expert: Interview with John Sagaria, President of Fireworks Extravaganza

Get ready because things are about to (NOT) blow up in here!

Summertime brings many things, including fireworks displays. As the creator of award-winning aerial spectacles for more than 20 years, John Sagaria knows a few tricks for lighting up the sky.

Slide's 30-Second Summary

Advice from a fireworks pro: Take time to become familiar with state and local laws. Only set off fireworks from a stable launch point. To reduce fire risk, be sure you have fire safety equipment and are a safe distance from nearby structures. If you’re consuming alcohol, leave the pyrotechnics to a “designated driver.”

firework safety

Slide recently sat down with John for some expert guidance on the safe use of fireworks.

First, check the laws in your state and municipality to learn which devices you can legally purchase for home or personal use. Many states have “Safe and Sane” laws which permit only non-aerial and non-explosive fireworks, including fountains, sparklers, butterflies, snappers, and other novelties.

When purchasing fireworks, only buy from a reputable dealer. Also, purchase only consumer-grade items (e.g., rockets, "cakes”/boxed fireworks displays), and not commercial-grade items, which should be used only by trained professionals.

Be a Straight-Shooter: Fireworks Fire Safety Recommendations

To reduce fire hazards, a few basic rules apply:

  • Use fireworks at least 75’-100’ from houses and other structures—and look for utility lines and other overhead obstacles.
  • Block and brace devices for launch, so they don’t fall over—and never put any body part over devices while igniting.
  • Keep dogs and other pets indoors when using fireworks—especially ones that like to play “fetch.”
  • Never use fireworks during drought conditions, or whenever advised by public authorities.
  • Always have a water-charged fire extinguisher or buckets of water nearby to douse flames.

Fireworks can add a lot of fun to any celebration. Nevertheless, using them is a job best left to the pros. If you choose to include fireworks at a home gathering, do not do so while consuming alcohol. 

Most of all, be aware that fireworks are serious stuff, so always use common sense. John’s rule-of-thumb: “Once you lose a finger, you can’t grow it back.”

About the Expert:

John Sagaria is President of Fireworks Extravaganza, a firm founded by his grandfather in 1988. A USATF Commercial Fireworks license holder for more than 20 years, John and his crews have presented major fireworks displays throughout the Northeastern US and around the world.

To learn more, visit

Published on June 30, 2023

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