Palestine Police Chief Mark Harcrow said residents using fireworks in the city may be arrested or fined.
“Every year we get a lot of calls with regards to fireworks that tie up resources for other calls and situations,” said Harcrow.
“We are always very aggressive about responding to these calls. Many are called in as shots fired. We have to investigate every call we get. This pulls our officers off calls that could be more important.”
Setting off fireworks is prohibited within the city limits. Under city ordinance, it is illegal for anyone in the city to possess, use, manufacture, sell, give away, transport, or discharge fireworks, except with a permit issued by the fire marshal for a supervised public display by a person holding any necessary state or federal licenses.
The handling and use of fireworks for public displays are also subject to city and fire codes.
“Fires are also a concern when it comes to fireworks,” Harcrow said. “This time of year tends to be very dry; it doesn’t take much to start a grass fire. Noise is another issue, especially for people who have to go to work the next day. It also scares pets. Let’s be respectful to our neighbors and follow the city ordinances.”
Fireworks have been a serious issue in some neighborhoods.
Palestine resident Elise Dean witnessed a person throwing firecrackers over the weekend across the street into Reagan Park.
“This is a problem every year at New Year's and the Fourth of July,” said Dean. “A house down the street from me burned down on New Year's several years back. It is just a matter of time before someone is fatally injured or another property burns down.”
In January, Dean said, renters next to her home used large amounts of fireworks in the front yard.
“They had rockets that soared hundreds of feet in the air, which threatened every home in the neighborhood,” Dean said “There were more than half dozen minors and one adult. They had a virtual bonfire going in the front yard. Fireworks were sparking everywhere on the lawn and across both streets.”
Every year, Dean said she fears a firecracker could land on or near her house and cause a fire on her property.
Fireworks can be used in the county.
The National Council on Firework Safety recommends:
• Obeying all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
• Knowing fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
• Supervising all firework activities by children. Never give fireworks to children.
• Not mixing alcohol and fireworks. Save your alcohol for after the show.
• Wearing safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
• Lighting one firework at a time and then quickly moving away.
• Using fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
• Never relighting a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Always having a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
• Never carrying fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
• Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
• Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and placing them in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
• FAA regulations prohibit the possession or transport of fireworks in checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
• Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.