Igniting illegal fireworks could have explosive consequences
Just a few days before New Year's Eve, local fire and law enforcement agencies as well as a man who manages a local fireworks stand talked about what fireworks can be legally used in Prescott.
Consumers may only use specific novelty items - snappers, snap caps, party poppers, glow-worms, snakes, toy smoke devices, sparklers and certain toys - legally within the City of Prescott and the Town of Prescott Valley, according to local laws.
"We don't want people using illegal fireworks in city limits, including consumer and aerial fireworks," Prescott Fire Division Chief Eric Kriwer said.
Items that are illegal to use in Prescott and Prescott Valley are all consumer fireworks and aerial fireworks. Consumer fireworks include cones, fountains and spinners. Aerial fireworks, which are illegal to use within the entire state, including bottle rockets, sky rockets, missile-type rockets, helicopters, torpedoes, roman candles, and jumping jacks. All fireworks are banned on federal lands.
The Snap Fireworks stand had novelties, fountain fireworks and other items that are legal to sell, according to state law - even if they're not legal to use.
"Arizona has strict regulations on what types of fireworks can be sold," said John Moore, who manages the stand in the Depot Marketplace parking lot in Prescott. "We make sure we are in full compliance."
In accordance with local ordinances, signs were posted in the sale area telling customers that the use of fireworks other than specific novelty items is illegal within the City of Prescott.
As customers perused his products, Moore said he reminds people of the law and that Prescott officials' slogan is "If you light it, we will cite it."
The Prescott City Council and Prescott Valley Town Council enacted laws making the use of consumer fireworks, with the exceptions of novelties, in their jurisdictions misdemeanors in response to Gov. Jan Brewer signing a bill on May 10, 2010, to allow the sale of fireworks.
"The police are taking a hard stance on this enforcement prohibiting fireworks in city limits, because of the fire issues it can cause," Prescott Police Lt. Andy Reinhardt said. "Due to it being a crime, violators can be fined up to $2,500 and can be sentenced to up to six months in jail."
Additionally, anyone who uses fireworks may be liable for the expense of an emergency response to the incident, according to Prescott Valley town code provisions.
The signs on tables at the Snap Fireworks stand also reminded customers that consumer fireworks cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 16.
"Customers in Prescott are a bit older and they're asking questions, doing their research," Moore said. "I like the fact that they're taking their time."
While people may enjoy using fireworks responsibly, "they also have a tremendous potential to cause harm and damage," Central Yavapai Fire District Chief Paul Nies said.
"Sparklers and other things that produce heat can create a situation where people can get hurt," Nies said.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers, fountains and novelties accounted for 32 percent of the 7,000 people treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2008, and 40 percent of the people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15.
Kriwer recommended that people interested in seeing fireworks on New Year's Eve attend an event where the fireworks are launched by professionals.
Nies also expressed concerns about people firing guns into the air, and told of one New Year's Eve at his Chandler fire station when they heard a loud noise and found a 9mm slug in a station door.
"We don't want to see anyone injured while celebrating a holiday," Prescott Valley Police Sgt. Brandon Bonney said.
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