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April 23, 2014

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Fireworks stands set to open; firefighters urge ‘common sense’

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Some of the fireworks considered illegal, anything that explodes or moves uncontrollably, are seen during the Las Vegas Fire Department’s annual fireworks safety news conference Friday, June 25, 2010.

Fireworks will go on sale next week in Southern Nevada in advance of the Fourth of July. For firefighters, the holiday is the busiest work day of the year.

Fire officials hosted a demonstration Friday aimed at educating residents about fireworks — particularly those fireworks which are illegal in the Las Vegas Valley.

“You have to remember that the word 'fire' is in fireworks,” Las Vegas Fire and Rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said. “(Illegal fireworks) are any type of firework that flies through the air uncontrollably.”

Certain fireworks have been approved as “safe-n-sane” explosives by a local committee of fire officials, but it's other types of fireworks that concern firefighters. Bottle rockets and other flying explosives are illegal.

To demonstrate, Szymanski on Friday lit a firework at the Las Vegas Fire Training Center, 633 N. Mojave Road, and quickly moved out of the way as sparks spread across the concrete. He said in previous years flying explosives have landed on wooden roofs, causing damage to homes.

If a firework catches a house on fire, that person can be held financially responsible, Szymanski said. All fireworks, even those deemed safe, can be dangerous and lead to injuries, he said.

“We’ve seen some serious fires as a result of safe-n-sane fireworks,” Szymanski said. “You have to use common sense.”

Many illegal fireworks are brought to Las Vegas from the Pahrump area or the Moapa River Indian Reservation, he said. The reservation is on federal land, so fireworks purchased there must be shot off in one of its designated areas, Szymanski said.

Residents are advised to keep a bucket of water and shovel nearby when shooting off fireworks. Szymanski said explosives should be lit on a flat, firm surface away from grass.

Fireworks committee member Dennis Bergquist said there will be about 300 fireworks stands throughout the valley. He said officials will inspect each one beginning Monday to ensure that illegal fireworks aren't being sold.

Fireworks stand owners must have a permit and receive training from fire officials before operating a fireworks stand.

Anyone caught with illegal fireworks in the city of Las Vegas can serve up to six months in jail or be fined $1,000, officials said. Residents can also face penalties for shooting off fireworks after midnight.

“We want everyone to have a safe holiday,” Bergquist said.

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