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CCPD, LCEC, offer fireworks-related advice

June 28, 2018
Lehigh Acres Citizen

As you may have noticed, firework tents and paraphernalia have been popping up along roadsides and in stores across Cape Coral and Southwest Florida.

These night-sky illuminators go hand-in-hand with the 4th of July holiday and the celebrations that go along with it.

That leaves us with this question: what fireworks are legal in Florida?

The Cape Coral Police Department sent out a memo earlier this week clarifying which kind of fireworks are legal and the dangers that may accompany them.

Sparklers, fountains, glow worms and snakes are legal.

Illegal fireworks are classified as any that explodes or leaves the ground-this includes but is not limited to roman candles, mortars, firecrackers, M-80s, bottle rockets, etc.

"So why are fireworks for sale at locations throughout the city? It is understandable that this can be very confusing. In the State of Florida there is a loophole in the law. Florida is primarily an agricultural state and the loophole in the law is for the benefit of agricultural operations to scare off birds and other pest animals," the release states.

It continued to note that when you purchase fireworks from these vendors, a waiver must be signed to complete your purchase. This protects the vendor and states that you plan to use the fireworks for agricultural purposes.

CCPD is concerned about the holiday falling on a Wednesday, which means most people will have to work the next day, increasing the number of complaints they will receive.

So what will be the penalty and how will CCPD enforce the law?

"Our officers COULD issue citations and/or make arrests the first time they see a violation. The noise ordinance ticket will run you about $100 and the misdemeanor fireworks charge can run up to $1,000 with a year in jail! Let's be real. Nobody wants us out there rounding up people for shooting off a bottle rocket. Also, since it is a misdemeanor, the officer must witness the violation occurring in order to make an arrest or issue a citation. A lot of times, we arrive after the fireworks have gone off, or between volleys. Fortunately, our officers have the discretion to issue warnings and educate people as an alternative to citations or arrests. That is usually enough to get compliance and handle the complaint. If not, then we have the other tools at our disposal," the release stated.

At the end of the day, avoiding a tragic accident at the hand of a faulty firework or misuse, is the biggest concern.

The report stated that in 2016, there were 11,000 injuries and four deaths in the United States associated with firework incidents.

Don't think just because you've done it in the past, it makes you susceptible to law enforcement restriction says CCPD.

"The fact of the matter is, there are way more people buying and shooting off fireworks than there are officers on the street. We get to the calls one at a time as fast as we can. If you've been setting off prohibited fireworks in the past and never got the police called on you, it wasn't because it was legal before. It was simply because you got lucky."

Lee County Electric Cooperative also released a firework memo, noting the importance of your surroundings while lighting them.

"Fireworks should only be lit in open areas where there are absolutely no power lines in sight," said the release. "Should a firework accidentally come in contact with an overhead power line, call your utility and 911 immediately."

LCEC also stated that firework-related injuries don't just apply to large-scale apparatus, but to firecrackers, rockets and sparklers alike.

Some of the safety precautions to take into consideration from the U.S. Product Safety Commission include never letting a child handle fireworks, spectators should be at least 20 feet away and not downwind of the fireworks, always light them on a smooth, flat surface away from anything flammable, read all instructions on fireworks, keep water close by and never relight your fireworks if they don't ignite or malfunction.



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