Officials: Be safe with fireworks this New Year

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Duke and Trayvin Williamson shop for New Year’’s Eve goodies at Powderkeg Fireworks on U.S. Hwy. 29

Duke and Trayvin Williamson shop for New Year’’s Eve goodies at Powderkeg Fireworks on U.S. Hwy. 29

For those planning to use fireworks to celebrate the New Year tonight, the rules are different depending on the location, according to local fire officials.

In both Opp and Florala, citizens are allowed to shoot fireworks inside the city limits, while the practice is banned in Andalusia.

Opp Fire Chief Cory Spurlin, as well as Florala Police Chief Sonny Bedsole, said fireworks are legal, but can also be dangerous.

“What we do is we allow everything that is approved to sell through the state fire marshal’s office,” Spurlin said. “We don’t have any kind of ordinance against them, but if there’s a problem, we don’t want people to hesitate to call us.”

Bedsole also cautioned Florala residents to use discretion when celebrating tonight. Bedsole said there is no curfew, and fireworks are “perfectly fine,” but added if people continue firing them into the early hours Wednesday morning, they could find themselves “in some trouble.”

While fireworks aren’t legal inside the Andalusia city limits, Fire Captain Shannon Kelley said those in the surrounding area should use caution when celebrating.

“It’s mostly a common-sense thing,” Kelley said. “If you are going to fire them, kids need adult supervision.”

Spurlin also cautioned fireworks users to remember safety.

“We always recommend you never hold any fireworks in your hand,” he said. “We ask that you use some type of platform to shoot fireworks.”
Spurlin also said people should be wary of fireworks they think are “duds.”

“In a lot of instances with injuries, it’s when the fuse goes out, and people think it’s a dud,” he said. “They walk up to it and it ignites again and goes off.”

Spurlin said sparklers can also pose a threat.

“Sparklers are a high fire risk,” he said. “Pay attention to them. They put out a very hot flame. Just be careful with them. Don’t let children run while holding them and things like that.”

Michael Page, co-owner of Powderkeg Fireworks on U.S. Hwy. 29, said fire officials are spot-on with their warnings, adding larger fireworks can be even more dangerous when used improperly.

“We sell a lot of the artillery and mortar shells, and the bigger fireworks,” Page said. “We encourage people to always make sure they are fixed on some sort of platform, so they don’t turn over. And people should always have them away from a crowd, and pointed at a safe distance. You don’t want them to turn over and start shooting at you.”

Page said warnings are included on all firework packaging, and more information about them can be found at his store’s Facebook and Pinterest pages. Powderkeg Fireworks will be open today from 10 a.m. into tomorrow morning, until business dictates.