City officials remind residents, visitors about fireworks ban

Published 4:56 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2018

As residents begin preparing to celebrate Independence Day, local officials are reminding city residents to be mindful of Elizabethton’s ban on the sale, possession, and use of fireworks within the city limits.

In September 2017, members of the Elizabethton City Council approved changes to the city’s fireworks ordinance. Under the new rules, the possession, sale, discharge, and storage of fireworks within the city limits of Elizabethton is no longer permissible at any time without a special permit issued by the Elizabethton Fire Marshal.

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“Any kind of firework that you light and shoot is banned,” Elizabethton Fire Marshal Andy Hardin said. Anything that creates an explosion is banned under the ordinance, but Hardin said handheld sparklers are permissible to use.

There are no permits for the sale or storage of fireworks within the city limits, but Hardin said those wishing to have a fireworks display can apply for a special permit. The fee for the permit is $100, and Hardin said there is a review process that must be completed before a permit can be issued.

“Once they apply for the permit I have to go out and inspect the site, make sure they have enough space for safety issues, and they have to show me their plan,” Hardin said.

Based on the types of fireworks being launched, Hardin said there are certain distance requirements in place to create a safe discharge area as well as safe fall out area for any embers. “It has to be a safe distance that the firework couldn’t reach anything combustible or people,” Hardin explained.

According to Hardin, many homes in the city’s residential areas do not have adequate space for fireworks to be discharged under the city ordinance.

Additional restrictions include that the operator of the display must be at least 21 years old and no one under the age of 18 is allowed to assist with the discharge of the fireworks.

Those obtaining a permit must also have a liability insurance policy to cover the cost of any damages caused by the fireworks.

The ordinance allows permits to be issued for public and private fireworks displays, but Hardin said most of the requests he has received have been for public displays such as during the Covered Bridge Celebration or for the Elizabethton Twins game. A local church has obtained a permit for a display, Hardin added.

All permit applications must be approved by Hardin and the Elizabethton Police Department before a permit will be issued.

In addition to the permit requirements, Hardin said any permitted fireworks display will also have a fire truck and crew standing by during the event just in case.

Those who launch fireworks without a proper permit could face penalties, according to Hardin.

“If someone is caught shooting they can be cited into municipal court,” Hardin said.

Anyone with questions regarding the fireworks ordinance can contact the Elizabethton Fire Department at 423-542-5421 or the Elizabethton Police Department at 423-542-4141.