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29 June 2007
Details Concerning Fireworks Safety and Celebration at JSU's Pete Mathews Coliseum on July 3rd

By Jennifer Bacchus
News Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Fireworks Safety Vital

Matt Curl, left, and Payton Sims show the fireworks that Crazy Ken’s will take off the shelves due to safety issues because of the drought. Photo: Anita Kilgore

In the middle of Lamar Sims’ fireworks store, Crazy Ken’s, there is a stack of boxes filled with bottle rockets, missiles and anything from his stock with wings. None of the items are for sale.

Sims voluntarily removed from his for-sale stock any fireworks that, when ignited, rise off the ground and do not go straight up or anything that cannot be easily controlled.

The sale of fireworks, even in times of a drought emergency, is not illegal, but certain types of fireworks, such as those Sims has set aside pose a greater fire risk than others.

“We’re going to encourage everybody to be extra safe and not shoot any rockets or missiles or anything and just be extra cautious,” said Sims, adding, “and pray for a lot of rain.”

Linda Casey of the Alabama Forestry Commission clarified the issue of fireworks in a press release sent out June 20. Under the commission’s restrictions, the use of ground level fireworks, such as basic firecrackers, sparklers, and poppers are allowed, but aerial rockets are prohibited.

“After re-evaluating the initial fireworks restrictions, it was decided that the ground-level fireworks could be more safely used by the public,” said Casey.

Sims is encouraging the use of ground-level fireworks in his customers, having stocked two sections of his store with fountains, a type of firework that sends out a shower of colorful sparks.

“I’d rather have customers come in and shop and know that, as long as they’re using good sense, they’re not going to be in any trouble,” said Sims. “We want them to come back next year and everybody have a good time.”

Sims and his wife, Emily, are reminding their customers to stay in an open field, away from wooded areas or buildings, keep a water hose or fire extinguisher ready and always have adult supervision. They are also reminding them that some prohibited items may still be in the combo packs they have for sale.

Inside Crazy Ken’s there is also a large supply of artillery shells for sale, these fireworks are shot straight up in the air, exploding high and giving the remaining pieces ample time to be extinguished on the way down, limiting the fire risk.

For anyone who wants to experience the thrill of a fireworks celebration without the risk of a brush fire at their home can go to Pete Mathews Coliseum on July 3. There, a little after 8:30 p.m., the City of Jacksonville and Jacksonville State University will have their fireworks display.

“We’re going to have extra fire people on duty,” said Jacksonville Fire Chief Mike Daugherty. “They are shot over a vacant field. We’ve got four-wheelers out in the field with fire bottles, we’ve got fire trucks out in the field, we’ve got fire trucks out in the crowd in case something goes errant, we’ve got brush trucks that will be out there, we do everything.”

This year, the city will hold the pyrotechnics to 6-inch fireworks, ensuring the most control possible over the situation. The crowd is also forbidden from having any individual fireworks.

JSU will darken the lights of the coliseum parking lot and it plans to have the campus radio station, 91.9 WLJS, play patriotic music for the crowd before and during the celebration.

For the best viewing, make sure you have a clear line of sight north of the coliseum. No parking will be allowed on Highway 204, Park Avenue, Carolina Drive or Pennsylvania Avenue. Highway 204 will be closed to traffic between Park and Pennsylvania Avenues during the display.

As is the case every year, it is illegal to discharge fireworks in the city of Jacksonville and Daugherty warns there is a danger of fire with any type of fireworks, as well as other common Fourth of July activities.

Anyone caught setting off fireworks in the city will be fined $300.

“My position is that these things are, especially in these times, extremely hazardous,” said Daugherty. “It’s not just fireworks that are included in that [declaration]. It’s campfires, it’s bonfires, it’s anything that will make an open flame except maybe grills, if grills are attended properly.”

Recently, the Jacksonville fire department responded to two fires caused by unattended grills and both caused property damage.

About Jennifer Bachus

Jennifer Bacchus is a staff writer at The Jacksonville News. She can be reached at 256-435-5021 or via e-mail at

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