Fire officials urge caution

With legal fireworks sales struggling to get off the ground, local fire department officials are hoping today will be just another day for crews.

The one-week window in which approved fireworks are legal in Clark County has included few significant fireworks-related calls or injuries. Some local officials blame slow business at certified booths on poor economic times.

"They aren't buying as much as they had in the past," said Tim Szymanski, Las Vegas Fire Department spokesman. "People have said they have to save their money for more important things."

In Clark County, "safe and sane" fireworks are on sale until midnight on the Fourth of July. After that, any unused piece is considered an illegal weapon.

"Safe and sane" fireworks are sold only at licensed and certified booths, Szymanski said.

But Clark County Fire Department spokesman Scott Allison said even the "safe and sane" fireworks can cause serious damage.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 85 percent of all holiday injuries are caused by such fireworks. Fireworks and sparklers throw off showers of hot sparks at temperatures that can exceed 1,800 degrees, said Lorraine Carli, NFPA spokeswoman.

"We find that 'safe and sane' fireworks are actually neither," Carli said. "We recommend that people avoid the use of consumer fireworks entirely and enjoy professional displays."

Allison said extra firefighting units won't be on call today because of the lighter sales of fireworks.

To report the use of illegal fireworks, dial 311 to leave 911 open for more urgent calls, officials said.

Szymanski said always use caution and monitor children and pets when using fireworks. Once a firework is spent or found to be defective, leave it alone for about a half-hour and drop it in a bucket of water to soak before throwing it away, he said.

"Most of the Fourth of July fires we respond to are brush fires and Dumpsters from used fireworks that still contain hot particles," he said. "Any time you have fireworks around, you have the potential for things to get out of control."

Contact reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@ or 702-383-0279.


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