ST. GEORGE — With fireworks being legal from July 2-5, St. George Fire Department Chief Robert Stoker laid out some tips and advice to stay safe while celebrating over the holiday weekend.
One of the first things Stoker mentioned was that about 80% of the fires started over the last two weeks have been due to the use of fireworks before the window where you can use them legally.
“The current state law is two days before the holiday, the day of the holiday and the day after,” Stoker said. “The hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., except for the day of the holiday when they’re extended till midnight. Our biggest concern is the safety for both the individuals and the possibility of fires.”
Stoker’s biggest tips for the safe use of fireworks revolve around following city guidelines. This includes not lighting fireworks in restricted areas, following the manufacturer’s recommendations, lighting them on a flat surface so they will not tip over and making sure to have water on hand in case anything goes wrong.
As for restricted areas and the interactive maps, Stoker said local cities follow state recommendations and rules when it comes to proximity to dry washes and hillsides. They also factor in current conditions and places that have historically had brush fires as a result of fireworks.
“Individuals can face some pretty stiff fines for firework violations,” Stoker said. “The three main ones we look at are illegal fireworks, discharging fireworks outside, the legal dates and times, and a possible citation if you’re in a restricted area or not.”
People could be fined as well as charged for the suppression costs and the cost for the fire department to respond. Stoker added that the total costs could reach into the thousands, and that’s not including any damages to property. They have had to issue some fines in the past that cost several thousands of dollars. Some incidents happened three to four years ago and the violators are still making payments.
Another piece of advice Stoker offered was to make sure people soak their fireworks overnight after lighting them off. Stoker said to fill a five-gallon bucket with water, and instead of throwing fireworks directly into the trash after use, keep them in the water overnight. There have been incidents in the past in which leftover embers have lit trash cans on fire.
“With lighting the fireworks off comes responsibility, and once you decide to light fireworks off, then you are responsible for the actions that take place,” Stoker said.
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