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November 21, 2014

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As fireworks booths get busy, fire officials stress safety

Fireworks safety

Clark County Fire Department public information officer Scott Allison discusses fireworks safety with fire inspector Dan Bushkin Tuesday. Launch slideshow »

Fourth of July preparations have begun for local firefighters in charge of inspecting fireworks distributors to make sure vendors are complying with county regulations.

There are about 200 curbside firework-distributing stations throughout Clark County, selling products from three companies: TNT Fireworks, Phantom Fireworks and Discount Fireworks. The stands are typically run by local nonprofits.

Each booth operator is required to participate in two orientations on the rules and regulations, which include proper booth construction, curb distances, number of exits and fire extinguishers present. Then, the inspector must visit the sites and make sure there is no smoking and that each booth is carrying legal “safe and sane”-labeled products.

While there is no fine for vendors who do not comply with the rules, noncompliance can mean losing their permit for the rest of the season and, depending on the severity of the offense, losing it for the following years, said fire inspector Dan Bushkin.

Losing a permit could mean major losses for the nonprofits that run the booths.

Solid Rock Christian Church has operated a booth on the corner of Pebble and Spencer for the past four years. Pastor Grace McKinley said the money it makes in one week of selling fireworks funds their outreach programs for the rest of the year.

“We love outreach in the community and we couldn’t do the community work without the funding,” she said. McKinley said the group makes about $7,500 a year. Nonprofits receive 50 percent of the proceeds from sales, while the rest goes back to the distributor.

Solid Rock’s booth is one of the few 24-hour distributors in Clark County, so it has about 25 people from the church volunteering, especially from their God’s Girls program for teenage girls. The girls must be at least 14 years old to work in the booth.

Outside of the booths, firefighters also are trying to prevent illegal fireworks from entering Clark County from California other places in Nevada where other types of fireworks are permitted. Illegal fireworks are any aerial fireworks, which may cause brush, palm tree and house fires as people celebrate the nation’s birthday.

“The bad thing about bringing in illegal fireworks into Clark County, if you start a fire at any time or burn someone’s house down, they can go back to you as the source and you could be buying them a new house,” Clark County Fire Department public information officer Scott Allison said.

The fine for the possession of illegal fireworks can be up to $500.

Allison said last year the fire department confiscated 40,000 pounds of illegal fireworks found in a U-Haul during a checkpoint stop at Mountain Springs. Everything in the truck, which was coming to Las Vegas from California, was confiscated, he said.

Last year, July was the fire department’s busiest month. July 4 is second only to New Year’s Eve as the department’s busiest day, Allison said.

“It’s unfortunate when people don’t heed our messages, but we want everyone to have a fun and safe Fourth,” Allison said.

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