Burn Baby Burn…Fireworks and Risk Mitigation Strategies. They Do Mix!

Who doesn’t love a good fireworks display on the Fourth of July? Fireworks are patriotic, exciting, beautiful and – hazardous. Yes, hazardous, but with risk mitigation, can be fun and safe to enjoy. A member of the Arrowhead family recently found out the hard way how important it is to mitigate your risks at all times, especially when it involves fireworks! Enjoy our personal lessons learned as they pertain to risk mitigation 😉

Here’s the backstory.

While on a trip out of town, I had given my 16-year-old son the task of cleaning his room before company arrived over the weekend. Doing as he was told, he set out to cleaning his room. At one point, he found some leftover fireworks from last year’s Fourth of July. He decided to take a break and go in the backyard and shoot off a Roman Candle. He hadn’t really considered the drought conditions we were in; it had not rained in four months!

There was no wind and the conditions were perfect for a beautiful firework display as it was just starting to get dark. He lit the Roman Candle and it exploded in the sky multiple times. The last flare went up but didn’t explode. It came straight down and lit the grass on fire at his feet. He tried to stomp it out but it was burning in all directions and spreading fast. He ran over to the garden hose, but it wasn’t screwed in. He quickly tried to screw it in and turn it on. By this time the fire had consumed half of the back yard and was spreading fast. Some of the fire had even started burning the wood fence! He tried to turn on the hose but was turning it the wrong way and actually tightened it down until it was broken.

A friend had stopped by to see him at that time and noticed the yard was on fire and ran to the back yard. They then ran in the house and found bottles of Gatorade and worked on dumping it on the flames where they could. The neighbors were now alerted to the fire and started throwing their garden hoses over into the yard and ran to my house to assist with the fire. It had now consumed all of the grass and was burning the bushes. They called 911, but were put on hold. They waited about 3 minutes and hung up the phone to finish putting out the fire.  Having burned almost everything it could burn besides the house; the fire was out.

Now there is nothing but burned wet ground and ash everywhere!  We have two large dogs that come in the house and are now filthy, but that is a story for another day!

Develop a high-level mitigation strategy

Whether it’s firework safety or a client project, developing a high-level mitigation strategy will help reduce the risk impact severity and/or probability of occurrence.

For example, when planning for a fireworks display on the Fourth of July, be sure to create a high-level mitigation strategy before lighting to avoid burning down your house. (My son could have done some things better besides shooting a Roman Candle off in drought situations, like having the garden hose hooked up and ready to go.  Maybe even use the sprinkler system to water the grass first would have helped avert danger.  Having adult supervision before lighting the Roman Candle should have been a must!)

Identify the number of risks

Do the risks identified put a strain on your staff or project scope? If yes, you may want to evaluate increasing staff or reducing scope.

Think of it this way – How many people will be attending your fireworks display? Make sure you have adequate human resources to help put out fires and call the fire department if your risks turn into a reality…  (Lighting fireworks by yourself is risky but the outcome can be disaster.)

Determine steps to implement mitigation strategy

What actions and/or steps are needed to implement your strategy?

We could have checked the fire danger forecast and been mindful of the wind. You don’t want anything catching you off guard! (Following the rules of when and where the fireworks should have been lit would have saved a huge grass fire. Understanding that watering the grass before lighting off fireworks in a drought, in this case, is a lesson learned for one 16-year-old boy!)

Mitigate your risks this Fourth of July by being mindful of all the things that could pose additional potential risks to a fun and successful celebration. Build your risk mitigation strategy and focus on the fun this Fourth of July!

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Arrowhead Consulting – Aimed for success!