As they prepare for Fourth of July celebrations Tuesday, Waco fire officials are reminding residents of city ordinances, responsible use of fireworks and upcoming patrols by Waco fire marshals.
“The Fourth of July holiday weekend is usually a busy weekend for us, especially the Fourth of July and the violations of the city ordinance,” Deputy Fire Marshal Lt. Riley Kilgo said. “Firing aerial fireworks inside the city limits is against the city ordinance, and those calls keep us quite busy on the Fourth of July.”
According to Waco city ordinance, it is a violation to possess, use, manufacture, sell, give away, transport or discharge fireworks within the city limits of Waco or within 5,000 feet of the city limits without a permit. The ordinance also prohibits the possession of fireworks by a minor.
Fireworks allowed in the city limits without a permit are “snakes,” smoke bombs, “snap and pops,” sparklers and champagne poppers, which are typically available at major retail stores in city limits. Fireworks only available at stands and stores outside city limits are prohibited in town.
“In past years and for this year as well, we will be taking this very seriously,” Kilgo said. “It can cause serious damage to property and persons, so if we catch you using illegal fireworks inside the city limits and you are discharging those fireworks, fireworks can be confiscated and you can be issued a citation.”
Fireworks sales are permitted outside the city limits, and residents are allowed to transport fireworks across the city without a violation, Kilgo said.
McLennan County Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Patterson said residents can shoot off aerial fireworks outside the city limits, but he cautioned residents to be smart and safe.
“People have been pretty smart, but you can always have those few,” Patterson said. “This year, I think we are a little better off because we’ve had rain, so we aren’t as dry as we have been. But the rules still apply.”
Waco fire marshals said education in the past several years has reduced some complaints, and officials have worked to get notice out to residents about the city ordinance.
Kilgo said few citations have been issued, but fire marshals and police will respond to complaints and confiscate fireworks or cite residents discharging fireworks.
Fire marshals routinely are responding to back-to-back fireworks violation complaints on the holiday weekend.
“Since the city’s fireworks show moved to McLane Stadium, we have seen a lot less firework violation calls,” Kilgo said. “We are still very busy that night, but I think education is going a long way with keeping people safe.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission 2015 Fireworks Annual Report, about 8,000 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments between June 19 and July 19 that year. For the full year, 11,900 fireworks-related injuries were treated, according to the report.
“We just want people to be conscious of their surroundings, obey the city ordinances, obey the laws and review safety tips about things you should and shouldn’t do,” Kilgo said. “Also, watch your pets, because fireworks can be dangerous for pets too.”