Fireworks safety urged

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It’s that time of year again.

     The Fourth of July is a time for cookouts, barbecues, family, friends and sometimes fireworks.

     However, a burn ban enacted by Lincoln County supervisors Monday due to very dry conditions prohibits the shooting of fireworks. And the sale or use of fireworks always is prohibited within the city limits of Brookhaven.

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     Several fireworks stands outside the city limits remain open for business in Lincoln County.

     Brookhaven Fire Chief Tony Weeks says using fireworks can be dangerous.

     “Bottle rockets and other fireworks could start a grass fire very easily,” he said.

     Weeks couldn’t recall any firework-related fires in the past few years, but they have happened.

     Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said his officers routinely get called out to reports of people using fireworks, despite the city ordinances against their use.

     “We get quite a few calls about fireworks every year,” he said. “I’d like to repeat that fireworks are not allowed in the city. We try to work with people on it. In some instances, if we find parents were involved with shooting fireworks we could charge the parents for their role.”

     Henderson said the biggest thing is safety for young people.

     “Someone could get injured if they’re not being supervised,” he said. “That’s my main concern.”

     The only time fireworks can be used is when the board of aldermen grants permission for special events.

     The fact that people can buy and use fireworks just outside the city is something Henderson said he thinks confuses people.

     “The bad thing about it is people sell fireworks right outside the city and it’s easy for people to buy them there and bring them back into the city,” he said. “It really gets people confused. We get calls about gunshots when it’s really fireworks being used.”

     Weeks did say if you live in an area that firework use is allowed, safety should be a point of emphasis.

     “I recommend reading the directions for all fireworks,” he said. “The instructions on most fireworks say ‘lay on ground, light fuse and get away,’ or something to that extent. That’s a good rule of thumb to use.”

     He said not to light fireworks and hold them at the same time, because that can be dangerous. The heat fireworks generate is usually enough to start a fire.

     “Sparklers look harmless, but they get very hot,” he said. “They also stay hot for a while after they’re used as they burn at well over 1,000 degrees.”

     Weeks said the best way to ensure everyone stays safe is keeping safety in mind and having adult supervision.

     “Children need to be supervised by adults at all times if they’re going to be outside with fireworks,” he said. “Safety is the main thing. Just use common sense when you’re using fireworks.”