July 3, 2023
NPR recently published a segment featuring Jay Zagorsky, Associate Professor of Markets, Public Policy, and Law, discussing firework safety and success in the United States.
As far back as the 1970s, fireworks were illegal in most states and had many sales restrictions. Except for Tennessee, where “Hee Haw Fireworks” in Goodville sold numerous fireworks. It was in 1972 that Congress created the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which required sellers to ensure the safety of their products. It was the owners of “Hee Haw Fireworks” who advised their consumers how to use their products properly and safely after they transitioned from a convenience store to just fireworks.
Zagorsky shares that, “They made sure fuses were consistent in release time. Users wouldn’t know if the fuse would blow in seconds or minutes and would often bring someone to walk over to the fuse to inspect it just in time for it to blow up in their face. They made the bases of rocket fireworks stronger and longer, so the base did tip over and ground level near spectators.”
Ultimately these restrictions helped boost fireworks sales as they made the products more reliable for users. Injury rates have dropped by a factor of 5 in the last 30 years with adjustments to safety protocols to fit the growing production of fireworks.