By Sheriff Grady Hartman, Oneida County
Special to the Star Journal
As the July 4th weekend approaches, the Sheriff’s Office begins receiving fireworks complaints. These calls are as frustrating to law enforcement as they are to citizens. This is due to the fact that you can buy fireworks that you are not allowed to possess or use without a permit at many locations throughout the state. Just because you can buy these items does not mean that you can use or possess them. The general rule is that anything that explodes or leaves the ground requires a permit. The only kinds of fireworks that can be possessed or used without a permit are sparklers that do not exceed 36 inches in length, stationary cones, and fountains, toy snakes, smoke bombs, caps, noisemakers, confetti poppers with less than ¼ grain of explosive mixture, and novelty devices that spin or move on the ground. Obviously, it is not these types of fireworks my office receives calls about.
The reports we usually receive have to do with loud fireworks that explode in the air. These are the types of fireworks that require permits. It is not difficult to obtain these permits; you need to contact the mayor or the chair in the town you intend to use the fireworks. Some permits may require a bond or insurance to indemnify the issuing jurisdiction for any damage that may result from the possession or use of the firework. You will receive this information when you contact the jurisdiction where you plan to use the fireworks. The permit must indicate the kind and amount of fireworks you plan to possess or use so it is good to know what you plan to possess or use before you begin the permit process. Since minors cannot receive a permit to possess or use fireworks, minors are not allowed to possess or use any type of firework that leaves the ground or explodes. They can still possess or use those described above that do not require permits. Persons who possess or use fireworks without a valid permit can be cited. You can be cited for each firework you possess without a valid permit. Parents or guardians can also be cited for allowing a minor to possess or use fireworks.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the requirements for possession and use of fireworks so that if this is something you plan to do to celebrate the July 4th holiday, you do so properly. Please be aware of the laws requiring permits and take into consideration those around you. Often neighbors will call because of the time of night the fireworks are being used or they are concerned for the safety of their property. Be sure to have your permits available in case my deputies are called to your home and be aware of any possible fire threats. I wish you all a safe and happy July 4th holiday.