The Fourth of July is coming fast and with it firework sales, but remember, fireworks can only be enjoyed outside the city limits and safety is key.
Stephenville Fire Inspector Lt. Gregg Schrumpf sat down with the E-T to discuss rules and safety when it comes to fireworks.
“They can get a $500 fine for shooting them in town. We do chase them down when they’re shooting them,” Schrumpf said. “Firework sales and use of them are only allowed out in the county. The city has an ordinance against them.”
If you are going to shoot off fireworks in the county, keep these safety tips in mind.
“Make sure you have a good, safe area to do them; a water supply, fire extinguisher or both; they're little explosives,” Schrumpf said.
There are a variety of reasons why fireworks are not allowed in the city.
“If we allowed people to do them in the city that means we’re taking on a little bit of the responsibility of it,” Schrumpf said. “During the 80s there was a rush of using wood-shaved shingles — they still use them in a lot of construction — and they’re great until they dry out and then they start catching on fire. In Plano, I think it was in the early 90s, they had four or five houses catch on fire and it just spread from rooftop to rooftop. I don’t think it was fireworks related, but I know it was the wood-shaved shingles.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) there are an average of 18,500 fires per year including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside and other fires from fireworks.
“Mainly we’re going to have grassfires and so make sure to see where they’re going to go because anything can change it’s direction,” Schrumpf said. “The bad thing about all the rain we got is that it caused everything to grow and now it’s starting to dry out so instead of short dry grass, we have tall dry grass.”
Another danger of fireworks is their temperature and harm they can do to people who use them.
“You can get burns, eye injuries, hand injuries from holding it in your hand and lighting it,” Schrumpf said. “Don’t hold them when you light them. Use one of those long matches, punks or the BBQ grill lighters so that you’re away from it when it goes off.”
But Schrumpf said they want everyone to have fun and the fireworks show in Stephenville City Park is one way to do that.
“We know people want to see fireworks so we put one on for the city and I think the company we do business with does a really great job of putting them on,” Schrumpf said.
According to Schrumpf, the city fire department received several calls last year about fireworks within the city limits.
“Of course it’s mainly kids lighting them and throwing them,” he said.
Schrumpf also warns of sparklers and how dangerous they can actually be with statistics showing that sparklers lead in the type of fireworks causing injuries.
“Everyone thinks sparklers are safe, but they burn at up to 1,200 degrees at the tip,” he said. “They sparkle and things fall off, so you give it to a little kid and it starts sparking and hitting their arm and so they throw it. They’re not looking where they throw it, it may hit mom and dad’s legs or there’s no telling.”
Another safety tip includes keeping children and pets away from fireworks.
“Dogs hear so much more than we do and that’s why every year there are so many dogs that come up missing July 5th,” Schrumpf said. “My dogs stay in the house.”