With the Independence Day holiday just around the corner, Greensburg Mayor Gary Herbert, Chief of Police Stacey Chasteen and Fire Chief Scott Chasteen took time Wednesday morning to discuss the proper use of fireworks.
With local radio station WTRE as their forum and personality Mark Gravely as their moderator, the trio of city officials spoke of the hazards posed by fireworks, proper usage of the festive Fourth of July items, and the steps to take when setting them off in residential areas.
Last year’s drought led to a months-long delay in the annual county fireworks celebration, but there will be no such problems this year. With weather returning to normal, Greensburg and Decatur County citizens are free to again celebrate the nation’s birth in the usual manner. The mayor and respective chiefs only hope everyone will do so responsibly.
“If you’re in a neighborhood, be cognizant of your neighbors,” said Scott Chasteen. “Be respectful of your neighbors.”
Those comments were echoed by Mayor Herbert who added, “Be careful; have fun – but most importantly, be safe.”
Safety – both for those using fireworks as well as those around them – was at the forefront of Wednesday’s conversation.
Improper use of fireworks that leads to injury of another person is a class “D” felony, according to information provided by Indiana State Police Sgt. Noel Houze. If a person dies from the misuse of consumer fireworks, the perpetrator can be charged with a class “C” felony. Causing property damage is a misdemeanor while violating laws and regulations can lead to citations.
One of the most important rules to remember, however, is the simple fact that fireworks use is confined to the user’s property unless specific permission is given by another, such as a neighbor.
“What goes up on your property must come down on your property,” Scott Chasteen said in summation. “You’re liable for any damages done to someone else’s property.”
Mayor Herbert added that setting off fireworks in the street is also against the law. The City of Greensburg has not designated a location where fireworks can be used by the general public. The mayor mentioned that a location may be decided upon in the future – he used the city reservoir as a possible site – but he stressed that no such area exists at the moment.
“There has been no permission given to shoot fireworks off from the street,” Scott Chasteen added.
The group also commented on times in which the use of fireworks in permitted, as all three city offices have been known to receive calls from angry residents regarding fireworks going off in their neighborhoods at late hours.
The use of fireworks is permitted each day between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. with the exception of Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and New Year’s Eve. On those holidays, the hours of use are extended to midnight. Purchasers and users of fireworks must be at least 18 years of age, and that adult is responsible for the actions of any minors who may be in the area at the time of use.
The group also discussed the most dangerous group of fireworks – and the answer may surprise.
“Sparklers,” a Fourth of July tradition for many, can burn at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the fire chief said. Discarded sparkler sticks also pose the risk of puncture wounds, eye gouges and other health hazards.
But in spite of the dangers and the immense amount of responsibility necessary when using fireworks, all three city officials made it clear that proper use can remain a fun Independence Day activity.
As a matter of fact, the annual fireworks spectacle at the 4-H Fairgrounds precedes Independence Day, scheduled for dusk July 3. That free public show, a tradition for many families, may prove to be all the fireworks needed for some individuals.
For others, taking precautions, using good judgment and being respectful of one’s neighbors and surroundings are likely to make the upcoming July 4 holiday a safe and happy time for all involved.
For more information on fireworks laws and regulations, check out www.in.gov/dhs/2810.htm.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056