This weekend, thousands of Georgians will celebrate the Fourth of July by making their backyard go boom. The Gwinnett County Fire Department issued a public service announcement in advance of the holiday, asking for local residents to show restraint in their pyrotechnics:
The Independence Day holiday requires extra diligence from firefighters and the general public. The combination of dry vegetation and enthusiastic patriots lighting fireworks can lead to dangerous situations. The recent legalization of certain fireworks in the state of Georgia may lead to increased use by individuals who are unaware of the potential hazards. As always, the Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services suggests leaving fireworks displays to the professionals. “With many opportunities available for residents to get together and view professional fireworks displays, why take any risks?” asks Assistant Chief Stephen Hrustich, Fire Marshal for Gwinnett County. Fire officials express concern that sparks from store-bought fireworks could ignite fires endangering nearby buildings or people.
“Firefighters are always concerned with the potential for personal injury or loss of property due to fireworks,” Hrustich said. For this reason, fire officials are urging citizens to attend a public fireworks display. There are several public displays scheduled around Gwinnett County. They are conducted by licensed, trained and permitted pyro-technicians. The sites are approved through an application process and inspected by the Gwinnett Fire Community Risk Reduction Division – Fire Marshal’s Office.
State law recently changed to legalize the sale of consumer fireworks in Georgia. Previously, novelty items such as sparklers and items that emit showers of sparks were sold throughout the state from stores and tent sales. These items are not considered consumer fireworks and are not affected by new legislation. According to the new law, consumer fireworks, or devices that explode or launch into the air, may only be sold from a brick and mortar storefront. They may not be sold from tents or makeshift vending sites. Any building selling consumer fireworks must receive an inspection by the Gwinnett County Fire Marshal and be licensed through the state Fire Marshal’s Office. This helps ensure that locations offering fireworks for sale are doing so according to the law and as safely as possible.
Devices such as M80s, M100s, Blockbusters, Quarter-Sticks and Ash Cans are federally outlawed. These devices are dangerous, contain large quantities of explosive powder, and may not include warning labels or manufacturer identification. They may be higher-priced than other consumer fireworks or novelty products. Anyone who discovers consumer fireworks being sold from a tent or encounters illegal fireworks being sold should notify the Gwinnett County Fire Marshal’s Office at 678.518.4980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those planning to use fireworks as part of their celebration, the safety tips listed below will help provide a safe and enjoyable Independence Day for everyone:
- Purchase fireworks from a licensed and reputable vendor.
- Read the directions carefully and inspect the device for any defects.
- Keep a bucket of water, garden hose, and fire extinguisher close by.
- Ignite fireworks outdoors in an open area away from buildings, vehicles, vegetation or any other combustible material.
- Ignite only one device at a time and use a “punk” or fireplace lighter.
- Always keep a safe distance between yourself and the device.
- Remember to allow enough room for the proper functioning of fireworks.
- Always ignite devices on a firm, flat surface.
- Never give fireworks to a child and keep children away from any firework area.
- Never attempt to fix or re-ignite a malfunctioning device. Instead, discard it safely by soaking it in a bucket of water.
- Before going to bed at night, remember to inspect the area where fireworks were used.
- Make sure that no smoldering fires, hot embers or sparks are present from falling fireworks debris. Wet the area with a garden hose for added protection.
- Store unused fireworks in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children or pets and away from open flames.
- When discarding fireworks, remember to always soak them in a bucket of water for several hours before placing them in the trash.
For additional information on fireworks safety, please contact the Gwinnett Fire Community Risk Reduction Division at 678.518.4845, or email email@example.com. You may also visit www.gwinnettfire.org.