Officials offer caution, guidance for fireworks
June 24, 2009 · Updated 7:53 AM
ARLINGTON — With the Independence Day holiday coming on, residents of Arlington should know the rules and regulations on fireworks.
The Arlington Police Department and the Arlington Fire Department each have different concerns, although the goal for both is the safety and protection of residents and their property.
Arlington Fire Chief Jim Rankin said he’s apprehensive about the upcoming holiday.
“My trepidation is because of the risks associated with the misuse of legal and illegal fireworks. This year I am especially concerned because of the tremendous growth of flammable vegetation in and around our city,” Rankin said.
“I am asking our citizens to use extreme caution when discharging fireworks and to make sure all proper safety precautions are observed.”
The police department, too, is concerned, said Police Commander Brian DeWitt.
“It is legal to sell and purchase consumer fireworks within the city of Arlington from 9 a.m. on June 28 until 9 p.m. on July 4,” DeWitt said, adding the rules are defined in the Arlington Municipal Code, at AMC 15.16.060.
“The catch is, the fireworks can only be discharged from 9 a.m. to midnight on the Fourth of July itself,” DeWitt said.
The definition of consumer fireworks according to the AMC is any small firework device designed to produce visible effects by combustion and which must comply with the construction, chemical composition and labeling regulations of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Consumer fireworks as defined Jan. 1, 1984 by the United States Department of Transportation include sparklers, fountains not more than 3/4 of an inch in diameter with up to 75 grams of pyrotechnic composition, cone fountains with up to 50 grams of pyrotechnic composition, illuminating torches, spinning wheels, both the hanging type and the ground type, aerial devices such as Roman candles with up to 20 grams of pyrotechnic composition and a mortar or aerial shell up to one and three-quarters inches in diameter.
DeWitt noted that residents outside the city limit have a different set of rules.
From the fire department’s perspective, concerns are the use of legal fireworks without injury to person or property. While the past weekend of rain reduces some concerns, the fire department still urges parents to discourage the use of personal fireworks and consider enjoying professional displays as a family outing, said assistant fire chief Tom Cooper.
“In 2008 there were 785 reported emergency incidents in our state,” Cooper said. “That resulted in $208 million in property loss due to the use of fireworks. There were also 230 reported personal injuries,” Cooper added.
The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce coordinates an impressive fireworks display that is presented in the field behind the Arlington Boys & Girls Club starting at dusk July 4.
Fireworks safety tips
• Purchase only legal fireworks
• Never leave children unattended with fireworks
• Keep matches and lighters away from children
• A responsible adult should always be present during the use of fireworks
• Use only outdoors and away from combustibles; Never shoot fireworks near or at structures
• Never hold or throw fireworks
• If a devise does not light or fire, wait 15 minutes before approaching it and then place it in a bucket of water
• When possible, pre-water the area you will using fireworks and have water available to put out hot spots
• Understand that you can be held legally liable for your actions
The state Fire Marshal is requesting that citizens use caution in purchasing fireworks. Be sure the fireworks you purchase are legal to possess and discharge. Use only state legal fireworks purchased at a state licensed stand. Check for restrictions or bans in the area you will be discharging your fireworks.
For those residents outside of city limits, the state allows fireworks on the following schedule:
June 28 — noon-11 p.m.
June 29-July 3 — 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
July 4 — 9 a.m.-midnight.
July 5— 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Dec. 31 — 6 p.m.- 1 a.m.
• novelty & smoke items
• sparklers and spinners
• multi aerials
• cones and fountains
• Roman candles
• Reloadable mortars or smaller
Legal only on Tribal Lands
• firecrackers and chasers
• bottle rockets
• missiles and rockets
Illegal Explosive Devices
• M-80s or larger
• cherry bombs
• tennis ball bombs