Local fire officials warn of fireworks dangers
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.”