By CARL SMITH
County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said those who choose to shoot fireworks in the county during New Year’s Eve celebrations should use common sense to prevent injuries and damage.
While fireworks exhibitions are legal in the county as long as residents follow noise and nuisance laws, Starkville Fire Chief Rodger Mann said they are not allowed in the city unless authorized.
“Fireworks are actually illegal as stated by city code,” Mann said. “You have to have board permission to use them in the city.”
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, fireworks caused an estimated 18,000 reported fires in 2009, including 1,300 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires and 16,300 other fires. The total damage from that year reached an estimated $38 million in direct property damage. Also in 2009, an estimated 8,800 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries across the country. The risk of fireworks injury is the highest for children ages 10-14, a NFPA report said.
“Fireworks on New Year’s Eve is a custom and a tradition; we want to mainly keep everyone safe and their property safe,” Rosenhan said. “Besides the fire danger, there’s also a danger to fingers, eyes and even others with many fireworks. Whether you’re out there with sparklers or something a bit louder, always use common sense and make sure children have adult supervision. Being considerate of yourself and others is always the right approach.”
In his fire services career, Rosenhan said he has seen many grass fires and a few structure fires caused by fireworks.
“Years ago a bottle rocket managed to start a house fire. Those incidents are always possible whenever you’re using flammable things of that nature,” he said. “If you go out and shoot fireworks, be sure to find an open location and be mindful of where fireworks that travel — Roman candles and others of that nature — fly toward. Always know where you are pointing your fireworks.”
Rosenhan also said vegetation and wind speed should also be taken in consideration when using fireworks. Rainfall over the past week has dried up, he said, and ground vegetation could be flammable.