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Don’t light up for the Fourth, fire officials caution

Stay safe and legal by leaving fireworks to the pros, Hall fire marshal says

POSTED: July 1, 2011 11:12 p.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Natalie Bascom, of TNT Fireworks, sets out packages of fireworks Friday at their tent location at the Shallowford Road Walmart store for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend.

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The Fourth of July is a holiday marked by childhood memories of barbecues, fireworks and, of course, the occasional severe burn.

But fire officials are urging residents to put down the bottle rockets and leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals.

"We recommend people don't use consumer fireworks at all, period," Hall County's Fire Marshal, Capt. Scott Cagle, said. "They are dangerous and you can have a severe burn. We tell kids not to play with fire, but then we'll light a sparkler which burns at 1,200 degrees and give it to them. We're sending kids mixed messages."

Cagle also pointed out most fireworks are still illegal in Georgia.

"The only ones that were legalized a couple years ago were sparklers," he said.

"If it's aerial, explodes, pops or if you have to buy it in another state, that's a good indication that it's still illegal."

Though residents may get away with more around the holiday, Gainesville Police and Cagle both said their departments will intervene if they become a disturbance.

This could lead to confiscated fireworks and a possible fine, Cagle said.

But even those able to skirt the law may not be able to avoid the emergency room.

"They're cheaply made, but I think the most dangerous parts of (fireworks) are humans," Cagle said. "We use them improperly and that's usually when those burn injuries happen."

Fireworks can also be dangerous to property.

As the weather gets dry, Cagle said they have handled cases of people accidentally lighting yards or houses on fire.

"We tell people not to use fireworks but go enjoy a professional show. Let the professionals handle it," he said.

"But I'm not naive enough to know that people are going to use them anyway. If you do that, go by the directions, use adult supervision and don't throw them away in the trash can when
you're done."
Officials throughout south Georgia are banning the use of fireworks as a precaution against wildfires. Dry conditions there already have sparked three fires that have burned nearly 500 square miles in the Okefenokee Swamp near the Georgia-Florida state line.
Becky Erickson, a tent manager for TNT Fireworks, said they've set up shop around holidays near the Shallowford Road Walmart in Gainesville for the last five years.
"The Fourth of July is all about celebration," she said. "It goes all the way back to the early days with the bombs bursting in air. That's why people love fireworks. When used appropriately, the way the product was intended, it can be a lot of fun."
According to Erickson, her products sell for $1 to $500 and can be fun for the whole family.
"We offer anything from sparklers on up to 15-foot-fountains," she said.
"TNT sells safe and sane products. We want you to have a safe Fourth of July, we want you to keep it sane but, certainly, there's enough stuff to have a really fun time."

 



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