Preparing for firework dangers

Preparing for firework dangers
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- It's hard to believe, but we are less than two weeks away from the 4th of July. And you know what that means, plenty of fun for you and plenty of emergencies for firefighters.

An early fire season could make things especially bad this independence day.

"Fireworks, to me, are not safe at all. Too many fires, too dry of conditions to start with," Says Julia Rider.

She agrees that fireworks should be banned. After getting burned by a sparkler as child, she says she's never allowed fireworks at her house. Instead, her and her family go to Columbia park for the safer fireworks display.

"We all have a good time out there and watch the professionals do it. We don't do it," she added.

If only others felt the same way. Last year there were 350 fireworks emergencies here in Washington. Of that total, more than half of the cases resulted in people being burned or injured. And the hazards don't end there. With the fire season arriving early, a simple sparkler can cause disaster.

"The fourth of July used to be crazy for firefighters. We used to run from fire to fire," says Battalion Chief Tom Cole with Benton County County Fire District 1.

The one thing working in firefighters' favor? A countywide ban on fireworks.

"Now that counties and cities have started banning fireworks, the call volume has gone down," Cole continued.

West Richland was the most recent city to pass strict fireworks laws. The changes allow people to light fireworks from July second through the fourth and also during new years eve. Otherwise they're illegal.

"The parents need to teach them responsibility when it comes to fire and fireworks and then maybe if we start with that education hen we won't see as much of a problem," says Julia.

A citation for illegal fireworks can be as much as a few hundred dollars.