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When will they learn?

Commercial-grade firework led to woman's death, police say

July 3, 2007



A Lincoln Park woman in her 20s was killed in Melvindale Monday night in an accident where a firework she thought was defective hit her in the face, Melvindale police said.

The accident happened around 10:15 p.m. in the parking lot of Town Auto Wash on Outer Drive near Dix, said Melvindale Detective Mike Welch. She was later pronounced dead at Detroit Receiving Hospital, Welch said.

click here
WWJ-AM is reporting that the victim was 27-year-old Danielle Barse of Lincoln Park.

Police have not confirmed the identity of the woman killed.

There were at least seven to eight adults and several children who witnessed the accident, Welch said. The woman’s own children were also eyewitnesses, he said.

Police believe that the accident happened during a neighborhood fireworks show.

Welch said the woman was killed while using a commercial-grade firework, and he isn’t sure if she was familiar with how it worked.

“What she was killed with you would have to be licensed to even purchase,” Welch said. “This is something a city would’ve set off… this isn’t even supposed to be available from a fireworks dealer.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 36 fireworks-related consumer deaths between 2000 and 2005, according to a 2006 news release. The commission estimated there were 10,800 emergency room-treated injuries associated with all fireworks in 2005, the release said. The release also mentioned an accident that occurred July 4, 2005 where a man was killed after lighting a four-inch mortal shell in a homemade mortar tube with a cigarette lighter.

OK, in case someone never got the point when year after year, people are injured by illegally acquired fireworks, FIREWORKS ARE DANGEROUS PEOPLE!

Just FYI, a 3" Commercial grade shell like the one in the story above, once launched will go through a 3/4" piece of plywood without significantly altering it's course? So if your skin and bone structure is not more strong than 3/4" plywood, you might not want to put your freaking head or any other appendage you are fond of, over the opening of the shell before it has gone off. 3" shells are the smallest ones we hand fire in our shows. This means we are actually lighting the fuse by hand and standing mere inches from the mortar when it goes off. A 6" shell is the largest you are supposed to light by hand. Above that, you are supposed to light them either electronically or with a hand lit remote fuse. Commercial Fireworks shells are made in diameters up to 36", sometimes bigger. In our shows we always have at least 1 8" shell.



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 10th, 2007 12:33 am (UTC)
Darwin claims another!
Yup, I read about this. They lit it, and it didn't immediately fire. So she looked down the mortar barrel...
(THAT's going to leave a mark!)

It's sad that lots of people don't get it: there are some things that are better left to those who are trained to do them, and everyone else should NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME!
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:54 am (UTC)
Re: Darwin claims another!
We used some of the exact same devices at the farm this weekend and it says right on the side that it's a delayed firing scheme. Now I know why all the manufacturers print explicit instructions on the side.


Jul. 10th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)
People are stupid and will never learn. It rained here on the 4th..stopping only for the show at the plaza which we did get to see. Loved your fireworks display in the other postings. It was right nice to hear your midwestern drawl again LOL.
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:55 am (UTC)
Another great candidate for a Darwin award. It's raining here tonight.

Jul. 10th, 2007 02:04 am (UTC)
I can't help but think this is survival of the fittest in action.
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:58 am (UTC)
Yup, another one who drowned in the gene pool.

Jul. 10th, 2007 02:32 am (UTC)
Well, I guess I can scratch my plans to attach six 8" mortar launchers to the back of my car to see how fast the recoil pushes me. Damn!
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:57 am (UTC)
Well to give you a hint, an 8" shell will travel to a height of 800 feet in about 4 seconds. You can do the thrust calculations. You could still do you idea with just the lift charges. Then there would be no explosion at the end.

Jul. 10th, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
Welll....numbers to crunch!

Based on my calculations, and assuming I didn't make any bonehead errors, the shell would have to be launched at a speed of 264 ft/s (80.5 m/s) in order to attain a height of 800 feet in 4 seconds. I'm assuming, of course, that the shell doesn't have any thrust after leaving the mortar. I'm also neglecting things like drag and all those "realism" factors that bog a true physicist down.

You didn't tell me how much the shell weighs (and that's going to be critical in determining how much ooomf it gives my car when it's fired. The Internets seem to be mum on the subject as well, although I did find a physics problem online that gives a take-off mass of 3 kg (6.6 lbs) If that seems way off, you'll have to let me know. If the shell has a mass of 3 kg, then its momentum after being fired is 3 kg * 80.5 m/s = 241.5 Newton-seconds.

According to the Law of Conservation of Momentum, each shell fired backward from my car must give my car an identical momentum forward. Again, I'm neglecting things that rob energy from a system, such as friction. According to internetAutoGuide.com, the 2000 Olds Alero has a curb weight of 1371 kg (they should have said curb mass...tsk). So, if the Alero picks up 241.5 Newton-seconds of momentum from each shell fired, that only gives it a velocity increase of 0.18 m/s, or 0.40 miles per hour. Taking friction into account, the increase in velocity would be even less. Stupid inertia.

Now if I launched six shells simultaneously, I would presumably get six times the delta vee, or 2.40 miles per hour. Still not very impressive, and certainly not worth the time, effort, or risk.

Physics, though...awesome.
Jul. 11th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC)
The 8" shells actually weigh about 6 pounds each. You could go with even larger shells like a 10 or 12. The general rule is for each inch of diameter, the shell will go 100 feet in the air. you could possibly get up to a 36" shell.

Jul. 11th, 2007 07:33 am (UTC)
Hey, Hubble Space Telescope! Eat THIS! *loads the 18,700 inch shell*
Jul. 11th, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC)
Deb and I were discussing this proposal this morning as I was in the shower...good place to think...and we thought of a bunch of other problems with your idea but then worked out some ways to make it work. So see my next post on this.

Jul. 10th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
I'm giving you a mission: send that idea in to Mythbusters. I would pay good money to see what kind of explosion results from that!
Jul. 11th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
We don't need no steenkin' Mythbusters as long as I have my trusty calculator.
Jul. 11th, 2007 02:06 am (UTC)
But what you don't have is a good relationship with a retired FBI bomb squad guy who can get you the clearance to do crazy things like strap 8" shells to the back of a car. Calculators don't make fun explosions.
Jul. 11th, 2007 02:02 am (UTC)
I love professional fireworks displays but HATE the Fourth of July.

What a whacky culture we have where we "celebrate freedom" by triggered the shit out of any PTSD veteran for a week before and a week after.
Jul. 11th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC)
Yeah but we celebrated with fireworks and gunshots long before PTSD was a recognized condition. Plus the vast majority of us that enjoy watching or lighting fireworks probably are not thinking about celebrating freedom. Some like the pretty colors. Most of us just like blowing things up. I do feel for any vet that suffers PTSD though. Never really thought of it like that.

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


Wander aka StoneBear
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