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A fireworks reminder for the Fourth
Authorities: Celebrations should be safe, compliant with state fireworks laws
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For many, fireworks are a tradition on the Fourth of July, but local authorities offer a reminder that true fireworks are both dangerous and illegal in Georgia.
Statesboro Police Major Scott Brunson likes to quote former Bulloch County Sheriff’s chief deputy Gene McDaniel, whom he said sums it up quite succinctly; “I can’t say it any better  - if it goes ‘boom,’ then it is illegal.” 
Anyone found in the city limits with illegal fireworks could face a misdemeanor charge.
“We will be responding to complaints and will be on patrol,” he said.
Anything that explodes or goes up in the air is illegal in Georgia and poses a fire hazard, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.  “Those that are legal are still a fire hazard. “
Many people don‘t realize there is a major difference between the kind of “fireworks” offered for sale in Georgia, and those sold in other states.
Internet website chemistry.about.com explains the difference between “legal sparklers” and fireworks.
“There is a difference between a firecracker and a sparkler,” the website reads. “The goal of a firecracker is to create a controlled explosion. A sparkler, on the other hand, burns over a long period of time (up to a minute) and produces a brilliant shower of sparks.”
“Be careful with those that are legal in Georgia and only under adult supervision,” Wynn said. “Have a water source close by.  Set off only one at the time and don’t point fireworks at persons or pets. Submerge each firework in a bucket of water after its use. Again this is for the legal ones in Georgia.”
Brunson said following common sense and general safety precautions is advisable.
Bulloch County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jared Akins said safety is a concern, but the manpower issue regarding fireworks calls is another important concern.
“We respond to all kinds of calls on the Fourth of July,” he said. “Both gunshots and fireworks complaints are common.”
Firing a gun into the air and setting off any kind of firework, legal or not, can be dangerous. However, tying up sheriff’s deputies on gunshot and fireworks calls also takes their availability away should a more serious call come along, he said.
“We ask citizens to go buy legal fireworks available in Georgia. Save us the trouble and manpower to have to respond to (complaint) calls. We ask the public to help us keep these calls down so we can respond to emergencies.”
He reminds citizens that being caught with illegal fireworks could result in misdemeanor charges.
Wynn suggests attending community fireworks exhibitions.
“I encourage people to attend those shows put on by professionals such as the Firecracker Festival at Mill Creek (held after dark Thursday, July 4). “America will be 237 years old and you don’t want to mark that with a trip to the emergency room.”
Brunson said following common sense and general safety precautions is advisable.

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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