Introduction: In India quite a few religious festivals and cultural fairs are accompanied by public display of fireworks. The grandeur of the festivals is often evaluated by the common man with respect to its colorful firework displays. Firecracker accidents during mass fireworks at public display venues may be disastrous in its consequences and damages. A fire cracker disaster which occurred during a religious public firework display event at Puttingal in Kerala, India was documented and analyzed to figure out the safety concerns and good practices, towards making a reference for effective emergency management.
Methods: The fire cracker incident was studied on the broader perspective of disaster management. Inputs from agencies involved in emergency response, casualty management, damage assessment and general administration as well as the perspective of victims and the public who witnessed the event was incorporated in to the study through participatory observation, field visits and face to face discussions.
Result: The response followed by the firecracker explosion was analyzed in three phases based on the time frame of response. Influence of traditions and culture in firework organization, the mandatory legal requirements for firework displays and the current safety practices followed were evaluated in the background of this rare firecracker risk which turned out to be a major disaster in the state of Kerala in India.
Conclusion: Public display of fireworks in Puttingal temple was organised despite of the legal permission from competitive authority. Negligence of law, non-sensitivity of public towards fire work safety, competitive nature of event organizers and social pressure from religious groups traversed the basic fire work safety requirements, ultimately triggered the largest fire cracker disaster in Kerala.