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June 30, 2014

Valdosta Fire Chief Urges Citizens to Play It Safe on July 4

VALDOSTA — As the Valdosta area prepares for the upcoming Independence Day celebration, Valdosta Fire Chief Freddie Broome wants to remind citizens to play it safe.


According to the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, up to three-fourths of all fireworks injuries occur during the four-week period surrounding Independence Day. On the day of July 4, fireworks usually start more fires nationwide than all other causes combined.


Georgia law only permits public use of Class C fireworks.  Acceptable fireworks includes: 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.


“These identified Class C fireworks may be legal, but they can also be extremely dangerous when not handled properly,” said Fire Chief Broome.  “While sparklers and similar non-explosive fireworks may appear to be harmless fun, I want to remind citizens that it only takes one careless moment to turn a joyful celebration into a painful memory


According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), 89 percent of fireworks injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involve fireworks that Federal regulations permit consumers to use.  The seemingly harmless sparklers, fountains and novelty fireworks account for 34 percent of the fireworks injuries, half of the injuries result in fire burns, and more than 26 percent of the time the victim is a child under the age of 15.


Although citizens can purchase Class B fireworks in neighboring states, people should be reminded that the sale and use of Class B fireworks—including firecrackers, torpedoes, roman candles, skyrockets and cherry bombs—are illegal in Georgia.  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.


Thousands of people are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for firework-related injuries.   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 9-1-1 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 Fire Chief 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 at (229) 333-1835.

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