Health and Welfare discusses fireworks, Fourth of July

Published 8:12 am Friday, July 5, 2019

Even the Health and Welfare Committee got into the Fourth of July Spirit Tuesday night, leading conversations about fireworks as hundreds of residents prepare for the holiday.

Members of the committee heard a request from Ron Hardley of Ivanhoe Fireworks, who spoke to the committee about inappropriate business practices of some local firework sellers, particularly the ones who sell fireworks under tents throughout the community.

He cited two reasons why these tents are a problem.

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“You are losing a lot of revenue to these tents coming in,” Hardley said.

The volunteer fire departments typically sell fireworks themselves to help raise money, a fundraiser he said loses value with vendors who set up shop, sell their wares under a simple tent and then leave, taking their money out of the county.

Trouble is, Hardley said the county cannot just legislate businesses away just to help the fire departments.

“You cannot legislate somebody out of business,” he said.

The problem, however, is still serious enough to require attention, he said, because the quality of fireworks people receive from these tent vendors are significantly worse than what one might buy in an official shop.

“When moisture gets in, […] you put a tarp over the fireworks, you trap some moisture,” Hardley said.

He said this causes the moisture to soak into the fireworks, making them last much shorter than advertised. Storing them in a proper, permanent building, he said, would be beneficial to consumers during the holidays.

“I do not think we have the authority to write a law,” Commissioner Aaron Frazier said.

Hardley said this is not a request for a new law, rather to change an existing code or ordinance.

“You do not have to change laws. You just have to change the code,” he said. “My concern is about the consumer.”

Commissioner Mike Hill pointed out the discussion would make a great advertising campaign about why buying fireworks from an official store is a better idea.

“It would possibly even justify a higher price point,” Hill said.

He also pointed out the concern about faulty fireworks should have been brought up a few weeks before this, as there is little the commission can do about it for this year.

“If your concern is truly the consumer, […] you would have to catch it a week or two or five before the Fourth of July and actually start putting that message out,” Hill said.