Hinesville Fire Marshal Rick Perryman has advice for residents wanting to include fireworks with their celebration of the nation’s birthday.
“Leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals,” he said. “Watch the fireworks displays at Fort Stewart, Savannah or St. Simons. If you get caught with real firecrackers, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Perryman said the firecrackers most people associate with fireworks — lady fingers, cherry bombs and M-80s — are illegal in Georgia. Anything that produces an explosion, no matter the size of the firecracker, is illegal, he said.
Every year, though, people drive to South Carolina or Florida and come back with explosives that have been outlawed in this state. Perryman added that the fireworks tents people see in parking lots are state-certified; they’re allowed to sell sparklers and smoke-making devices.
“They’re not allowed to sell real firecrackers,” he said. “Still, every year people bring the real thing home from South Carolina or Florida. The ones they call Roman candles and bottle rockets can cause fires. Some people have gotten burned trying to hold them in their hands.”
Perryman has attended some of the same training that pyrotechnics experts have to undergo in order to conduct fireworks displays. They go through a lot of training, and for them to have to do that there must be a reason, he said.
Although it rarely happens, Perryman said sometimes soldiers who’ve gotten flares and grenade or artillery simulators off base will fire them in their neighborhoods on Independence Day or New Year’s Eve. He said they’re not considering the fire risks they’re taking with the neighbors’ homes or the danger to children.
Perryman recalled an incident in which a soldier received temporary hearing loss and blindness while attempting to use military pyrotechnics. Quite often, when injuries occur, alcohol is also involved, he said.
“We strongly recommend not mixing fireworks and alcohol usage,” Perryman said. “And always have adult supervision. Even sparklers are not safe for children to handle unsupervised.”
Perryman said he thinks it’s great that local residents want to celebrate the nation’s birthday and appreciates that so many Americans celebrate July 4 with a big bang. He said the best way to really enjoy the holiday is to be safe, and the best way to be safe is to allow those who’ve been trained to work with fireworks conduct the fireworks displays.