Double the usual number of fire alarms today

Firefighters hate the Fourth of July, the holiday dedicated to blowing up stuff, because when amateurs try to blow up stuff, they often blow up stuff they didn't intend to blow up. One of my friends has a particular unfortunate knack of drawing disasters to his neighborhood. One July 4th, a house in his neighborhood burnt down due to a stray firecracker landing on a wooden roof. A few years later, he moved to another neighborhood, and the next July 4th, a house in his neighborhood burnt down due to a stray firecracker landing on a wooden roof.

The Seattle Fire Department lets you view all the incidents to which they responded, and the year I checked (the year of the second house-burning-down), the Seattle Fire Department responded to twice as many reports on the fourth as they did on the third.

Comments (14)
  1. Richard says:

    4 July, meet 5 November in the UK.

    That’s our "blowing stuff up" holiday.  More fun when it gets dark before 10pm.

  2. Sebastian Redl says:

    See, that’s just bad planning by your founding fathers. If they’d signed that declaration of independence (or is ID the day of the victory?) in mid-winter, then it’d be mostly wet, and things wouldn’t catch fire so easily.

    We shoot our fireworks on new year’s day, when everything is wet.

  3. eddie says:

    In Spain, the official day for blowing stuff up and get burned by accident is 24 June, but there is a special festival in some cities in March when you can blow up your hand with powder too.

  4. BA says:

    It’s the day of the signing of the Declaration. It ended formally on 1781

  5. liam says:

    Slightly related(well july 4th anyway). My little neice who is in infants (elementry school ?) in the uk had a july the 4th party the other day in school! Which makes me ask the question WTF!

  6. Igor Levicki says:

    …that nuke? I saved one just for the July 4th :-)

  7. pyrochild says:

    "Blowing up stuff" sounds awkward.

    I prefer "blowing stuff up."

  8. Ricardo says:

    why people have wooden houses in USA is beyond me. Maybe they like seeing their house floating in water when a flood happens or blown to pieces in the case of a hurricane.

  9. tom says:


    Wood is cheaper and more easily available in the US.  And on the west coast, wood is way better than other materials in the case of an earthquake.  It handles the shaking much better than brick, concrete, and clay.  

  10. Puckdropper says:

    Regarding wood in houses:

    Wood is very easily worked, fairly inexpensive, and easy to replace building material.  It also has the attribute of retaining some (but not all) of its strength when burnt.

    On to fireworks:

    We had a package of fireworks that just smoked.  They’re supposed to be safer or whatever, but they’re really not.  Not only are you lulled in to a false sense of security, it’s possible the designers were too!  We’ve set off hundreds of fireworks over the years, but the only one I’ve seen seriously malfunction was one of those smokers.  

  11. Dean Harding says:

    "why people have wooden houses in USA is beyond me"

    The material used for the frame of the house is not particularly relevant when it comes to fire. Most of the stuff *inside* the house is quite flammable, and that’s where the fire usually starts. Whether the frame is wood or steel, and once a fire engulfs the house, it’s going down no matter what…

  12. Josh says:

    @BA – The signing was August 2nd, not July 4th.  July 4th was the day the wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress, but it wasn’t drafted by hand until July 19th, and not ratified/signed until August 2nd.

  13. Tim the Enchanter says:

    That felt so wrong entering the date in that format.

  14. Jonathan says:

    @Sebastian Redl

    Around here (unspecified US east coast location) New Years Day is likely to be dry and cold.  And so, lacking the fire retardant properties you are advocating.

    On the other hand, afternoons and evenings in July carry a 70+% chance of Thunderstorms; so you’re fairly likely to be ducking in out of brief rain showers while lighting off fireworks on July 4th.

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