Lo­cal fire of­fi­cials warn of fire­works dan­gers

The Standard Journal - - Local - By KEVIN MYRICK and MELODY DAREING

Fire­fight­ers will be ready on July 4th should any prob­lems oc­cur, but lo­cal of­fi­cials said they aren’t ex­pect­ing any ma­jor in­ci­dents fol­low­ing the past few years with­out any fire­works is­sues.

Cedar­town Fire Chief Sammy Stephens said he feels the change in state laws nearly a decade ago have pro­vided pos­i­tive changes to the hol­i­day with­out tak­ing away any of the en­joy­ment.

“We’ve ac­tu­ally been for­tu­nate over the past few years not to have any ma­jor in­juries due to fire­works,” Stephens said. “I be­lieve that’s partly be­cause the state changed the code. Of course that doesn’t mean that people don’t still buy them and bring them in.”

He said a change in the law made by state leg­is­la­tors reg­u­lat­ing fire­works sales in 2005 have made a big dif­fer­ence.

Stephens said the state law and city or­di­nances are en­forced when they can be, but part of their prob­lem is catch­ing people shoot­ing off il­le­gal fire­works.

“Our lo­cal ven­dors that sell fire­works will call us ahead of time, and we look to make sure their dis­plays are set. Even when they set up in tents, we go out to make sure they have a fire ex­tin­guisher, two ways out of the tent and other safety re­quire­ments they have to meet,” Stephens said.

He said lo­cal ven­dors have also com­plied with state law, which de­fines fire­works at 100 grams or less for sparklers, 200 grams or less for mul­ti­ple tube launch­ers, snakes and glow worms and .25 grains or less of ex­plo­sive mix­ture for snap­pers and drop pops.

Rock­mart and county fire of­fi­cials said they haven’t had a lot of cases where people have been in­jured by fire­works ei­ther, with the law al­low­ing only cer­tain types of py­rotech­nics to be sold.

“I think people are pretty safe with them,” said Rock­mart Deputy Fire Chief Ran­dall Chupp.

Randy Lacey, Polk County Pub­lic Safety Di­rec­tor, said the emer­gency med­i­cal crews are the ones to see fire­works in­juries with fire de­part­ments called out only in case the fire­works cause a fire.

Both said you can’t bee too safe. The U.S. Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion es­ti­mated fin 2011 num­bers that 9,600 in­juries oc­cur from fire­work use. Sixty-four present of those in­juries hap­pened within a 30day pe­riod sur­round­ing July 4.

Lacey said there haven’t been any struc­ture fires caused by fire­works, but there have been grass fires.

“As far as I know, in the last 3 years I have been here, I am aware that there was one large brush fire in Polk County caused by fire­works (in a wooded area off Jack­son Chapel Rd.) on the 4th of July,” Lacey said.

Chupp said Rock­mart fire­fight­ers have also worked grass fires caused by fire­work use. He said there are some sim­ple things those who use fire­works can do to elim­i­nate both in­juries and fires.

“Don’t let your kids use them. If you are go­ing to do it with them, the adult needs to be the one to light them off,” Chupp said.

He said to also keep a wa­ter hose handy and to pick up any de­bris. Chupp said don’t put fire­work de­bris in a trash can or with trash. In­stead, get a bucket of wa­ter and put all used fire­works in the wa­ter to soak overnight be­fore throw­ing them away.

“Just be aware, you’re play­ing with an ex­plo­sive,” he said. “They can burn hands. They do burn eyes. They don’t have a feel­ing about who they hurt.”

Stephens also said he gets more fire­work-re­lated calls at the end of the year than dur­ing In­de­pen­dence day, but that the dan­gers for a fire are greater this time of year.

“We get more calls dur­ing New Years Eve com­plain­ing about fire­works than we do for the 4th of July,” he said. “I can’t ex­plain it, but we do.”

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