New Year’s Eve is almost here and many Americans will celebrate by sending bottle rockets into the sky, exploding miniature bombs and unfortunately, breaking a state law.
Most fireworks are illegal for consumer use in Florida, even if they're available for purchase. This can be very confusing for residents, tourists and guests alike.
To help clear up some of that confusion, South Walton Fire District would like to share some of the questions we are typically asked along with the answers.
What kinds of fireworks can I use legally?
The short answer is not many. Fireworks generally approved for use by consumers include sparklers; small fireworks that emit colored smoke only; and "glow worms," which burn in bright colors without exploding. The state fire marshal has a full list, including brand names. This can be found at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/sfm/BFP/ApprovedSparklerLists.htm
So everything else is off limits?
If it explodes flies or lifts off, the law prohibits you from lighting it. That includes the popular Roman candles. Florida Statute 791 is explicit about these fireworks. Consumer purchase and use of these materials is unsafe, a threat and, most importantly, illegal in this state.
If most fireworks are illegal, why are they so widely available?
A loophole in the law allows customers to buy them if they say they're intending to use the fireworks for lawful purposes, including certain uses in agriculture and mining. In stores, this can be as simple as filling out a form.
How can I tell which fireworks are legal?
Just ask. Sellers know the difference, and in many stores, consumer-approved items are clearly marked.
What's the penalty for setting off illegal fireworks?
Florida law classifies it as a first-degree misdemeanor, which means those convicted could face up to a year in prison, a $1,000 fine and court costs.
I’ve heard it is OK to shoot fireworks as long as they are shot off the beach?
Shooting off the beach is still illegal and it causes a huge trash issue since most people do not clean up the debris that is left over.
Is Florida more restrictive than most states when it comes to fireworks?
Although Florida makes most fireworks illegal, some states go even further. Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York have banned consumer use of all fireworks.
I've always heard that fireworks are dangerous, but what's the real risk?
During the July 4th 2015 weekend, there were 6 reported deaths, two NFL stars lost fingers and one teenager lost a hand and suffered and eye injury. In addition, there are over 15,000 acres of protected wild land in South Walton..........so the risk is real.
South Walton Fire Chief Rick Talbert said that even legal items burn at high temperatures and can lead to injury, "Our encouragement to people is to “Leave the shows to the Pros” and enjoy a safe professional fireworks display”
For more fireworks information contact Sammy Sanchez, Fire Marshal at firstname.lastname@example.org 850-267-1298 or visit our website http://www.swfd.org/fireworks.php