Fire official: Use care when handling fireworks

The sound of fireworks being set off at night has been slowly increasing and will continue to do so as Friday’s Fourth of July holiday nears. With the increase of fireworks activity also comes the likelihood of someone being injured, or a fire started from careless handling of sparklers, bottle rockets and Roman candles.

Local police and fire personnel are stressing caution for those wishing to have their own personal fireworks show this summer and are urging people to be careful and follow safety measures to avoid an accident caused from the sparks the fireworks emit.

Alpena Fire Marshal Dave Robbins said in order to protect yourself and others, the best thing to do is not to light off any fireworks at all and watch the display that is put on in your local community by professionals. He said those who choose to do should never allow children to use them, read the instructions and make sure there is a water source near by to extinguish any fire that may start due to the sparks.

“Make sure you are lighting off fireworks on private property, because doing it on public property in against the law and make sure you are doing it in an area clear of obstructions and make sure you have a least a pail of water on hand,” Robbins said. “Always be mindful of your surrounding and if you have a firework that misfires, leave it alone for about 20 minutes and then out it into the bucket with the others that have already been set off.”

Robbins said in the past the main fireworks activity took place on or near the Fourth of July, but now that the state has established new laws on how fireworks are sold and what types are now legal, they are being used for most of the summer.

“One of the stipulations in the law allows people to launch fireworks the day before, the day of and the day after a nationally recognized federal holiday, so it not the just the Fourth of July any more,” Robbins said.

Because fireworks are best enjoyed after dark, many times the fireworks can be seen or heard late in the night or in the early morning hours and can be a nuisance for neighbors. Robbins said if it is done legally there is really nothing that can be done as of yet.

“To the best of my knowledge the city has not yet enacted any type of ordinance, or if they can, restrict firework use within that time line or makes someone shut things down at like 11 p.m.,” Robbins said.

Robbins said make sure when purchasing fireworks you do it from a reputable dealer, adding the state of Michigan heavily regulates the dealers and distributors.

“The state does a really good job of making sure the facilities are licensed, inspected and approved,” Robbins said. “Always read the label though. Read the instructions, they won’t lead you astray. If people are in too big of a hurry then at least use common sense.”

Robbins said do not use glass or plastic items to launch your projectile fireworks and to always transport them in their original containers. He said the fireworks available now can get quite large and can cause a great deal of damage, should it go off in a makeshift launcher.

“Today’s aerial devices are quite spectacular, even the smaller ones,” Robbins said. “If you use a makeshift container out of glass, plastic or even some metals and if they ‘flower pot’ or ‘stove pipe,’ then you have glass and metal flying all over the place. The fireworks today are powerful enough to do that.”

Robbins also reminds people to keep pets and other animals in the area away from fireworks. The animals can become scared, run off or become tramatized by the loud pops of the explosives.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.