If fireworks are part of your Independence Day celebration, don’t plan on possessing or shooting them inside city limits.

Gainesville Police Chief Steven Fleming said he intends to bring in extra officers during the holiday to enforce laws such as the ban on fireworks within the city.

Anyone who is caught shooting off the devices will pay a hefty price.

“The fine for possession of fireworks within the city limits is $500,” he noted.

He said he hopes the extra officers will deter revelers from using fireworks in places where they are banned.

“Fireworks in the city are illegal for two reasons: They are a safety issue and they are a fire hazard,” he said. “The laws against using or possessing fireworks within city limits will be strictly enforced from now until the end of the July Fourth holiday,” he said.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Steve Key has said in the past he isn’t fond of fireworks. However, he said there is no ban on their use outside city limits.

In the past, rockets with fins and other specific pyrotechnic devices were banned in Cooke County, but not this year.

Firework bans are not put into place “unless there’s an imminent danger due to draught and dry conditions,” Key said.

“If residents want to use fireworks, they should be careful and use common sense. For instance, fireworks should not be used without adult supervision,” he said.

Although the items are not illegal to buy and use in outlying areas, Key said people should still be aware of the fire hazards posed by fireworks.

Grassy pastures and hay fields are particularly dangerous spots to set off fireworks, he said.

Gainesville Fire Chief Steve Boone has also spoken about the dangers of fireworks.

In a previous Register story, Boone reminded residents that fireworks within the city are prohibited.

“It is illegal to sell, transport or even to possess any kind of fireworks in the city of Gainesville,” said Boone. “But typically you can find them (fireworks retailers) on the major highways just outside of town.”

Boone said he has seen the result of the improper use of fireworks firsthand.

“Every year they sell fireworks, we have fires related to them. Fireworks cause a lot of fires and a lot of injuries,” he said.

Boone said he offers a few suggestions for safety if one chooses to use the products during a holiday celebration.

“The best thing to remember is that fireworks should only be done with adults and proper supervision. And they should never be shot toward structures or grassy areas. We’re concerned with the potential fire danger,” he added.

Fireworks sales are limited to certain times of the year.

According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, fireworks may legally be sold in Texas just three times each year — from May 1 through May 5, from June 24 through July 4 and from Dec. 20 to Jan. 1.

Fireworks, their use and sale can be a complex issue.

For instance, many areas such as Dallas County ban shooting fireworks anywhere except in unincorporated areas.

Fireworks are a tightly-regulated industry with rules governing the display, storage, sale and use of the pyrotechnic devices.

Not all items which resemble fireworks are classified as such.

“Novelty items” such as party poppers contain a small amount of an explosive substance. Poppers are plastic party favors that pop and release paper streamers. Even these items can be dangerous and should not be given to young children.

To add to the confusion, some devices such as sky rockets with sticks and missiles with fins are banned in certain areas but not in others.

With that in mind some people travel to rural areas of the county to set off their fireworks creating a potential for grass or structure fires.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety — a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C. — provided the following safety tips for using fireworks:

• Treat fireworks with respect, read all of the cautions and warnings and use common sense.

• Lighting fireworks indoors, throwing them from automobiles and lighting multiple devices at the same time can lead to accidents. Fireworks are not intended to be used this way. Always obey all local laws pertaining to the use of fireworks.

• Show others the correct way to use consumer fireworks and do not ever use professional fireworks or illegal explosives.

• Use fireworks and sparklers only outdoors.

• Only persons over 12 years of age should handle sparklers of any type. Many young people get burned by sparklers every year. By keeping sparkers out of the hands of youngsters, the rates of injury can be decreased.

• Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you are, don’t use them. If drought conditions mean a ban on fireworks, follow the law.

• Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.

• Fireworks and alcohol do not mix. Have a designated “shooter”

• When all else fails, use common sense. Respect fireworks and sparklers, but also respect the fact that they must be used with caution.

• Visit www.fireworksafety.com for additional safety information on the use of fireworks.

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