While “real” fireworks are now legal, Statesboro residents likely still will have to travel out of state to buy bottle rockets, roman candles and other fireworks that fly into the air and go boom.
Georgia law, as of midnight Wednesday, allows the larger fireworks to be used in the state, but licenses to sell them won’t be issued until January 2016, said Statesboro Fire Department’s Prevention Chief Chris Colson.
Temporary locations, such as the TNT tent outside Statesboro’s Wal-Mart, are not eligible to obtain a license to sell the formerly-outlawed fireworks, he said. The only businesses that will be licensed in January will be ones with permanent locations, he said.
Spokespersons from both Statesboro’s Wal-Mart Supercenter and Big K (Kmart) said last week their stores would not sell the newly-legal firecrackers for the Fourth of July coming up Saturday, but that they would continue to sell sparklers and “smaller” fireworks.
Neither Big K manager Tim Krause nor Walmart manager Eric McCoy offered reasons for their stores not selling “real” fireworks this year, but according to Colson, the reasons are likely Georgia law prohibits the sales until January.
People can still purchase the large, loud, colorful explosives in other states and bring them to Georgia, but there are some stipulations to the new law.
Colson said it is illegal to detonate fireworks within 100 yards of a power facility, gas station, refinery or place where flammables are stored.
You must be 18 years old to purchase fireworks, and it is illegal to sell fireworks without a license. And again, even if a business seeks a license to sell fireworks in January 2016, it must have a permanent location and not a temporary site where they sell fireworks, he said.
According to the Associated Press, the Georgia Department of Insurance received more than 200 applications early last week.
Colson said one reason there will be delays in issuing licenses is that facilities planning to sell the newly-legal fireworks must be inspected for safety.
Teresa Skinner, who works in the licensing department of the City of Statesboro, said only one application to sell fireworks inside the city limits was sought, and that was for the TNT tent outside Walmart. The products they are allowed to sell are only the kind that were legal previously, not the ones that fly into the air and explode loudly. The TNT tent is affiliated with Walmart Supercenter.
Colson suggested residents be careful, don’t allow young children to handle fireworks, and make sure there is adult supervision around at all times.
He also suggested keeping the explosives away from body parts, and do not aim them at pets, people or buildings.
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, and saturate all “duds” (unexploded fireworks that had been ignited) and the remnants of expended fireworks to ensure fires do not break out, he said.
According to a release issued by Phantom Fireworks, Georgia joined 46 other states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico in allowing the larger fireworks to be sold and possessed legally.
Fireworks-related injuries have declined over the past 15 years in spite of more states making fireworks legal, according to the release.
The American Pyrotechnics Association also offered safety tips:
· Only light one firework at a time.
· Never ignite fireworks inside, but use outdoor surfaces with clear areas, away from flammable dry grass and woods.
· Never use alcohol or drugs while setting off fireworks. Do not try to relight fireworks that did not explode upon first use.
· Keep pets secure and away from the noise and explosions, as they may be frightened.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.