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Warnings issued about illegal fireworks

July 02, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

As the Fourth of July weekend nears, police and fire officials are warning people to beware of illegal fireworks and to make sure children are supervised when around fireworks.

Maryland Deputy State Fire Marshal Ed Ernst said the Fourth of July holiday is the busiest time of year for public and private fireworks displays, increasing the possibility of injury.

Ernst said he believes the most important safety tip is for people to make sure children are under adult supervision when using fireworks, even sparklers.

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Ernst and Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Paul Kifer said people should avoid using illegal fireworks. Kifer said there often are problems such as faulty and excessively short wicks with illegal fireworks, and that can lead to serious injury.

"Most of them, you don't know where they were manufactured," Kifer said. "Those are manufactured in clandestine areas. There's not a lot of quality control."

Kifer advised that fireworks displays are best left to the people getting paid to run them.

"If you want to see anything that goes boom or flies in the air, just go watch the professionals," Kifer said.

The following are some of the restrictions in the Tri-State area:

The Annotated Maryland Fire Prevention Code specifies which fireworks are legal in the state: sparklers containing no chlorates or perchlorates, ground-based sparkling devices, plastic-wrapped snappers and snakes containing no mercury. A permit must be obtained for any other type of consumer fireworks.

West Virginia law allows the use of sparkler devices including fountains, wire sparklers, trick noisemakers, smoke devices and snakes. Products such as firecrackers, torpedoes and sky rockets are illegal.

Pennsylvania law allows sparklers, toy pistols, toy cannons and devices with paper caps containing .25 grains or less of explosive compound. As in West Virginia, firecrackers, sky rockets and aerial fireworks are among the consumer fireworks that are prohibited.

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