A recent change to Georgia’s fireworks legislation may curtail pre- and post-Independence Day celebrations. The Valdosta Fire Department seeks to remind citizens of the change that prohibits citizens from setting off fireworks before 10 a.m. and after 9 p.m. on most days of the year. The exceptions allow the use of fireworks until 1 a.m. on New Year’s and midnight on Fourth of July.
Although Georgia legislation last year made it legal to sell, buy and possess fireworks—such as firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars—VFD Fire Marshal Capt. James Clinkscales says the newly legal fireworks are more dangerous, raising the possibility of fires and injury due to the misuse of these explosives.
The law bans people from igniting fireworks on roads and highways and within 100 yards of a hospital, nursing home and prisons. Firework enthusiasts are not allowed to light within 100 yards of a nuclear power plant or gasoline station and are liable for any damage they cause. Citizens are urged to be aware of the risks and employ the proper safety measures to prevent harm to themselves and those around them.
Consumer fireworks must comply with certain construction and composition requirements set out by federal regulations in order to be sold in Georgia. Citizens should beware of the larger fireworks sold in some of our neighboring states that do not meet the requirements.
"We can't stop citizens from using fireworks, but we urge citizens to use them properly and safely," Clinkscales said.
Whenever handling fireworks or accompanying someone who is doing so, remember these safety guidelines to ensure a fun and incident-free celebration:
- Never relight a firework that has gone out; instead douse it in water and discard the device.
- Never allow children to handle fireworks.
- Always use fireworks according to the manufacturer requirements listed on the package.
- Always have water and/or a fire extinguisher on hand.
- Never aim fireworks at people, vehicles or buildings.
- Do not wear loose-fitting clothing when handling fireworks, because such clothes can catch on fire in the process.
- Always stand 50 to 100 feet away from buildings when using fireworks.
- Call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency.
The sale of fireworks to anyone under the age of 18 is illegal and can be punishable with a $2,500 fine.
Rather than endure the risks, citizens are urged to leave the fireworks to professionals who are accustomed to potential hazards.
The annual Fireworks Spectacular event, hosted by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority near the Valdosta Mall, on July 4, provides an enjoyable and safe holiday celebration. Citizens are invited to this free event that will begin at nightfall.
Have a fun and safe Fourth of July. For more information on firework safety, contact that VFD at 229-333-1836 or visit www.valdostacity.com/fire.