Fire marshal: Leave the fireworks to the professionals

Fourth of July is just around the corner and with the holiday comes revelers who purchase and pop fireworks to celebrate. While there are fireworks stands in the area that sell the products, city and county officials want to remind the public that there are rules associated with fireworks.

The only thing allowed within the City limits, according to San Angelo Fire Marshal Ross Coleman, are displays that are commercial displays by licensed professionals who have a permit and operator’s license from the state.”

“Here’s what’s important to remember – it’s good that we got all these rains recently – and we’re glad that the grasses are wet,” Coleman said. “But between now and Fourth of July, depending on wind conditions and heat, we’re going to burn some of that moisture off. We’re going to dry.”

Because of the rains the area received within the last month, vegetation will grow.

“The fuel package is greater. We have more growth, it’s going to dry out. Dry grass is susceptible to fire. We need to be mindful of that.” Coleman said.

Although there is not a burn ban in effect in Tom Green County, County Judge Steve Floyd said fireworks will be allowed as long as citizens fire them outside the city limits and on private property.

“We are generally fine with people wanting to celebrate Fourth of July with fireworks, but we ask that they clean up after themselves,” Floyd said.

In the past, many have taken to social media to post photos of the mess left behind in public parks after the Fourth of July holidays.

The San Angelo Police Department offered the following tips for the Fourth of July holiday:

Possessing or using fireworks within 5,000 feet of and inside the San Angelo city limits is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a display by a licensed pyrotechnic operator. For families who purchase and ignite fireworks outside the restricted zone as part of their Independence Day celebration.

  • Always read and follow label directions.
  •  Have an adult present.
  • Buy from reliable sellers.
  • Use outdoors only.
  • Always have water – a garden hose and a bucket – on hand.
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never re-light a “dud” firework. Wait 15-20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Never give fireworks to children.
  • If you must store fireworks, do so in a cool dry place.
  • Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water, then disposing of them in your trashcan. Leaving used, discarded fireworks on the ground is littering.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.
  • Stay away from illegal explosives.

The fire marshal’s office will be patrolling to make sure that revelers are only using novelty items, such as items sold at big box stores.  Officials do not want to put a damper on celebrations by any means, however, they are concerned with safety during the holiday.

Coleman said as we get further away from rain, the lack of moisture should be taken into consideration when the decision to pop fireworks comes into play or head out to the displays that are being put on by professionals in the area.

“The safest way to enjoy your Fourth of July is to go watch the fireworks displays put on by the licensed professionals.” Coleman said. “Why mess with all that when you can go see it for free from the professionals?”