Las Vegas Sun

July 21, 2018

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5-MINUTE EXPERT:

It’s fireworks season: Know the law

Image

Steve Marcus

A woman calls the fire department after a spark from a fireworks ignited landscaping in a parking lot near Green Valley Parkway and I-215 in Henderson Tuesday, July 4, 2017.

Clark County is warning of a crackdown on illegal fireworks this Fourth of July the likes of which “hasn’t been seen in more than two decades.”

Enforcement teams will fan out throughout the Valley in search of illegal fireworks—such as those that fly through the air or explode, officials said.

“The teams will cite as many people as possible,” the county said in a statement. “Officers won’t be able to cite everyone, but the large deployment is expected to make a dent in what is occurring.”

For those looking to celebrate independence legally, here’s an overview of what you can and cannot do.

Know the law

All fireworks bought or lit in Clark County must carry a “Safe and Sane” emblem AND they should be purchased from booths, which certifies they have been approved by the fire department.

“There are several safe and sane items that did not get approved for sale this season,” Fire Inspector Amanda Wildermuth said in an email. “The items sold at the booths are the only ones allowed.”

Vendors can sell fireworks only from June 28 through July 4, the same period during which it is legal to light them.

Most other counties in Nevada ban consumer fireworks, even in the week leading up to the Fourth of July. In many rural counties, setting one off is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.

Rules for pyrotechnic professionals are just as strict. Local fireworks shows must be planned methodically and vetted to ensure everyone’s safety. Pyrotechnic operators must apply for permits and meet strict safety standards.

What is 'Safe and Sane'?

“Safe and Sane” fireworks contain less than 50 milligrams of flash powder and pose little danger when handled correctly. They include sparklers, smokers, ground fountains and whistlers. In 1967, Congress limited the amount of pyrotechnic power safe fireworks can contain.

Illegal fireworks

Many fireworks available outside Clark County are illegal here. Firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, M-80s and M-100s all are banned locally. If they explode, twirl uncontrollably, fly or are not labeled “Safe and Sane,” they are likely illegal.

American Indian reservations sell many of them, and they are legal to ignite there.

Reporting illegal fireworks

To avoid tying up 911 and 311 dispatch lines, officials also announced a new website—ispyfireworks.com—for people to report illegal fireworks activity.

• Cherry bombs have about 1,000 milligrams of flash powder, and M-80s have up to 3,000 milligrams.

• Bottle rockets: Essentially explosive projectiles without a guidance system, they fly irregularly, making them a serious fire hazard.

• Roman candles: Fragments of pyrotechnic compounds called stars ignite and fly out of a tube, propelled by special black powder, in the direction they are pointed.

Those in possession of illegal fireworks can have their items confiscated and face a fine of $1,000, in addition to disposal fees that can run into the hundreds of dollars, officials said.

Where can I light fireworks?

• No fireworks are allowed on city or federal property. Examples include Red Rock Canyon, Mount Charleston, Lake Mead, parks and schools.

• Setting off fireworks on streets or sidewalks is illegal.

• Fireworks are allowed on reservations.

Did you know?

Three-quarters of fireworks injuries occur in men. Women are more likely to be hurt at public fireworks displays.

How to avoid getting hurt

• Supervise children closely.

• Keep water on hand—a hose or multiple filled buckets—to douse used fireworks or put out fires.

• Don’t mix alcohol and fireworks.

• Keep away from anything flammable—dry vegetation, cars, buildings, etc.

• Keep pets inside.

• Light fireworks only on a flat, noncombustible surface.

• Never try to relight a dud. Leave it for a few minutes, then scoop it up with a shovel and throw it into a bucket of water.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.