• Loophole in new state law allows for fireworks in state parks

    By: Rachel Stockman


    STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. - State fire officials are worried about the lack of restrictions in the new law that allows customers to buy and set off fireworks anywhere in the state of Georgia. This law went into effect July 1, in time for the Fourth of July weekend.
    Park officials are concerned that the new law does not allow them the flexibility to put in place restrictions on where the fireworks can be set off.
    HB 110 expressly prohibits any government or municipality from creating local laws or ordinances that prohibit the sale or use of the fireworks in any area.
    “We are hoping to work with lawmakers to help regulate crowded situations or state and public lands,” said Dwayne Garriss, Georgia's State Fire Marshal.
    “The park is 90 percent woods. We are a wildland, and fireworks that are fired near and into the woods could cause a very serious brush fire and could burn hundreds of acres,” said Fire Chief Chuck Kelley, with Stone Mountain Park.
    With Independence Day drawing big crowds to the parks, Kelley said there is a higher risk for people to become panicked if they hear or see fireworks going off, especially in highly populated area.
    “If people shoot fireworks there, we have the potential for them to get hurt from the fireworks that someone else is shooting or themselves,” Kelley said.
    Ricco Johnson is one of the people excited about the new law taking effect.
    “I think you should be able to shoot them anywhere,” he said while stopping at a fireworks store.
    “Most people will use common sense, but there will always be somebody that might not,” Janet Fortenberry, a park visitor, told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
    The law currently restricts the fireworks from being set off between midnight and 10 a.m.

    On New Year’s Day and Independence Day the time extends until 2 a.m. It also prohibits people from setting off fireworks within 100 yards of a nuclear power plant or gas station.

    “I have always advocated for local control and putting in place some common-sense restrictions on where fireworks could be used.  Unfortunately the primary sponsor of the bill did not agree with me.  I have already begun working on tweaking this year's bill and have had discussion about this matter with the House Regulated Industries Committee chairman,” said Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs.

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