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Stay safe while having a blast for Fourth of July

Kayla Carter • Jul 3, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Fireworks play a spectacularly explosive role in Independence Day leisure all over the country, but in order for Washington County and Johnson City residents to maximize the fun and minimize disruption, it’s important to understand the rules.

The Johnson City fireworks code prohibits the sale, possession and use of fireworks of any nature inside and within one mile of the city limits.

The code does not apply to wholesale dealers who may sell to other dealers outside the city.

The code also does not apply to fairs, shows and exhibitors giving fireworks displays for the amusement of the public much like the annual Johnson City fireworks display at Freedom Hall.

All public fireworks displays must be licensed through the city recorder.

Washington County, however, has a different policy completely.

Almost anything goes in the county as long as it does not disrupt neighbors enough for them to call police, said Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal.

“As far as the county goes, years ago they changed the ordinance where the fire departments in Washington County could sell fireworks,” Graybeal said. “They are not illegal to possess, sell or shoot in the county unless it’s so late into the night that it causes a disturbance. As long as the neighbors don’t complain, that’s about the only time we would show up.”

However, not just anyone can sell fireworks in the county, Graybeal said. A license through the State Fire Marshal’s office is still required to sell any fireworks in the county limits.

“All the permits come through the Fire Marshal’s office,” Graybeal said.

The Johnson City Fire Department asks when celebrating this Independence Day that individuals thinking about handling fireworks heed advice from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Tips from the CPSC aim to decrease the amount of reported fires caused by fireworks.

The CPSC says the best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave it to professionals.

They also strongly advise that children should never play with fireworks. Sparklers can reach more than 1,200 degrees, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.

Also, children should be warned to stay away from fireworks debris because some may still ignite and can explode at any time.

The CPSC encourages pet owners to keep their animals indoors because some have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed by fireworks.

The use of homemade fireworks is frowned upon by the CPSC because the risk of injury and fire outweigh the fun.

Lastly, the CPSC asks that all citizens observe local laws. For more information, call the state Fire Marshal’s office at 615-741-2981 or visit its website at tn.gov/fire.

It will likely be too hot to bring your pet to Freedom Hall on Thursday to watch the fireworks, so leave it home.

Besides the heat, fireworks can cause animals stress due to the noise, not to mention the crowds.

It is advisable to keep animals indoors in a safe and secure place during fireworks displays.

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