The Times West Virginian

Local News

June 29, 2014

Fireworks bill to be brought up again

FAIRMONT — This Friday is the Fourth of July, and everyone knows what that means: barbecues, fireworks and spending time with family and friends.

And, like clockwork, the week before July 4, fireworks tents started popping up all over the state, including in Marion County. But don’t expect to see any change in what’s available at the fireworks tents; it will be similar to every other year.

“Anything that actually explodes or goes up into the air, that’s what they cannot buy,” Delegate Linda Longstreth, D-Marion, said. She said that sparklers, ground spinners and other fireworks that don’t explode or jump in the air are legal, and can be sold at fireworks tents around the state.

According to the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s website, Class C “Consumer” fireworks are not legal to purchase, possess or use within West Virginia. These include firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, M-80 salutes, cherry bombs and large reloadable shells (festival balls or shots).

This past legislative session this winter, Longstreth and others in the Veterans’ Affairs Committee had proposed a bill to change and expand which fireworks could be legally sold and used within the state. The bill would have started the West Virginia Veterans Program Fund, with the House version of the bill suggesting that a 20 percent fee be placed on the sales of fireworks, with the money going toward the fund.

“We were trying to help out the Veterans Administration and create a special fund for veterans,” Longstreth said. The idea was to allow business owners and retailers to sell fireworks for a special fee and registration with the fire marshall.

“Why don’t we legalize these? Other states have done it,” Longstreth said.

Longstreth said that the bill easily passed the House, but wasn’t taken up in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“There were so many things that needed to be taken up this session,” Longstreth said. Balancing the budget and dealing with the water crisis in southern West Virginia were both major concerns of the session this year.

“We thought it was a very good bill. It will be introduced again next year, and depending on what happens next year, it may go through to the point where it may be passed,” Longstreth said. “There just wasn’t time.”

Remember to stay safe during your Fourth of July celebrations. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fireworks caused a reported 17,800 fires in 2011. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to go to a professional display in your town or elsewhere. Keep a close eye on children when near fireworks; according to the NFPA young people ages 15-24 have the highest risk for fireworks injuries, followed by children under the age of 10.

If you decide to use legal fireworks, make sure to read all instructions carefully before use. Keep a bucket of water handy in case of emergency. Light all items outside, clear from houses, debris and flammable materials such as dry leaves or gasoline cans.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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