Firefighters in Fort Mill, Tega Cay urge July 4 fireworks safety

Special to the Fort Mill TimesJuly 3, 2013 

— Shooting off fireworks is an American July Fourth tradition, and local public safety officials understand that.

But they also realize improper handling of fireworks can lead to serious injury or even death.

“Nothing says ‘Fourth of July,’ like fireworks,” said Chief Jerry Chapman of the Fort Mill Fire Department. “The Fort Mill Fire Department wants everyone to have a happy and safe Fourth of July, and taking a few simple steps to stay safe can help ensure that this will be an enjoyable holiday for all.”

Chief Chapman said having a fire extinguisher readily available is essential. He said this is the holiday when most accidental fires occur. He added the fires can be as small as what’s inside a burning bucket or as large as a neighborhood.

“There is roughly more than 35 million dollars per year in fire damages nationally,” Chief Chapman said. “These fires are due to fireworks and decorations that are accented with fireworks. This ends up being expensive and the worst part is many children are the ones who are injured in these types of fires.”

Fire Prevention Firefighter Andy Mosher of the Fort Mill Fire Department urges residents to follow manufacturers’ instructions before setting off fireworks and to be prepared for the unexpected.

“You should always have a water supply around you when shooting off fireworks, especially if it’s dry out,” Mosher said.

However, he emphasized that if accidents happen, call 911.

“Our biggest thing is, if something catches on fire, don’t hesitate to call,” Mosher said.

He said most fires start around homes with dry shrubs and pine straw and other highly flammable outside decor.

Mind the grill, too

Another July 4 tradition is grilling hamburgers and hot dogs – and drinking alcohol. Officials caution residents not to drink to intoxication before tending their grills or handling fireworks.

“Sober, responsible adults should use fireworks,” Mosher said.

Aside from injury prevention, not following the laws can lead to trouble with local police, officials warn.

“With the exception of sparklers, it is unlawful for any person to use, fire, shoot or discharge any fireworks within the corporate limits of the city on any public property, public rights-of-way and public or private streets,” said Capt. Dave Nelson of the Tega Cay Police Department.

“This is simply to promote an environment of safety and security for all citizens who wish to participate in the enjoyment of the fireworks display.”

Violation of the ordinance may lead to confiscation of the fireworks and a summons may be issued with a fine up to $500.

In the Town of Fort Mill, most of the calls to the Fort Mill Police Department are complaints about noise from fireworks and fireworks shot off in public places, which is illegal in the town.

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