Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

July 2, 2014

Have a safe blast

City fire marshal emphasizes fireworks safety

VALDOSTA — “As a city fire department, we wish everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July. Part of that is we have a big display put on by the Parks and Rec Department. We do that to give people a safe venue to watch fireworks,” said Valdosta Fire Department Fire Marshal John Wisenbaker during a meeting on fireworks safety.

Still, Wisenbaker knows that some residents will use fireworks at their homes, but he and the VFD urge residents to not buy illegal fireworks and to be safe around the legal fire works.

“Some people are going to want to get involved with fireworks anyway. We’re asking people not to go to Florida to buy the illegal fireworks,” Wisenbaker said.

Georgia law prohibits Class B fireworks.

Class B fireworks include firecrackers, torpedoes, Roman candles, bottle rockets, skyrockets and cherry bombs. The sale and use of the Class B fireworks is punishable by a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.

“These are highly dangerous,” Wisenbaker said. “If you have ones that leave the ground, you have no control of where they are going. Houses have burned before, rooftops have been damaged, by inappropriate uses of fireworks.”

Georgia law only permits public use of Class C fireworks.

“Acceptable fireworks include: wire or wood sparklers of 100 grams or less of mixture per item; other sparkling items which are non-explosive and non-aerial and contain 75 grams or less of chemical compound per tube or a total of 200 grams or less for multiple tubes; snake and glow worms; and trick noise makers, which include paper streamers, party poppers, string poppers, snappers, and drop pops each consisting of 0.25 grains or less of explosive mixture,” according to city officials.

Every year, nationwide, thousands of people go to the emergency room for fireworks-related injuries. Most injuries come from small firecrackers and sparklers because those are the things that parents let their children hold.

“People don’t realize that they’re letting their children hold a 2,000-degree sparkler,” Wisenbaker said.

Even if you are shooting off Class C fireworks, the VFD urges you to let children watch, but not light the fuse.

“Most of the injuries come from the legal type of fireworks. I’d say that 10 percent of injuries happen from the illegal type, so let the child watch, but not light it,” Wisenbaker said.

In a press release issued by the City of Valdosta, Fire Chief Broome offers the following safety tips for using legal fireworks:

• Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.

• Observe local laws and use good common sense.

• Only adults should handle the fireworks. Always read and follow label directions

• Only light the fireworks outdoors, and be sure everyone is at a safe distance before lighting the fireworks.

• Only light one firework at a time.

• Never hold or get too close to a lit firework.

• Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks. Wait 20 minutes, soak with water and throw away.

• Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can.

• Keep a bucket of water, hose or fire extinguisher nearby.

• Be sure to wear safe clothing — nothing loose or bulky.

• Never point, throw or shoot fireworks at or towards people, buildings, vehicles, or any other flammable material.

• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.

• Remember to call 911 immediately for emergencies.

• Report illegal explosives to the fire or police departments.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at the community event where trained professionals are handling them,” said Broome, whose staff will pre-inspect the firework shooting site prior to the show and will be on standby with department fire engines and an aerial truck for emergency purposes. “We are confident this July 4 event, sponsored by the Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreation Authority, will be a safe event for everyone to enjoy.”

For additional safety tips, contact the Valdosta Fire Department, (229) 333-1835.

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