New rules surrounding fireworks makes shopping easier for some

July 3, 2013 3:21:20 PM PDT
For the Fourth of July many folks will be celebrating with their own fireworks. But, there are restrictions you need to be aware of.

The Texas Forest Service's website shows counties under burn bans. There are 109 counties under burn bans across the state, including Montgomery and Brazoria counties in our immediate area. That means there are limitations on fireworks because it is so dry.

In unincorporated areas of Harris County, there is no ban, so stores are expecting a brisk business. But before you go shopping for fireworks, there are some things you need to know.

Using a dummy, but very real fireworks, the Houston Fire Department demonstrated the dangers of improper fireworks handling, especially in the hands of children.

Dr. David Persse explained, "Children in particular, due to their immaturity, they are at high risk of injuring themselves quite badly."

The Houston Fire Department wants residents to leave the fireworks to professionals. But in the unincorporated areas of Harris County, fireworks stands are doing brisk business.

Shopper Mark Harrison said, "I want to put something spectacular for my son."

Harrison is one of many shoppers eager to stock up. This year, a change in state law could make shopping easier. That's because while it's still illegal to set off fireworks in cities that ban them, the state now allows the transport of fireworks through cities.

"They have to be packaged and unopened," explained Sue Davis of Top Dog Fireworks. "They have to be in an area such as a locked glove box, a trunk or a cargo area of an SUV or a van."

The change makes it easier for people like Harrison to buy fireworks at one place and drive them somewhere else.

"Any more freedom is a good thing," he said. "So if they let me carry a fireworks where I want to, that's nice."

But the fire department worries it could lead to more illegal fireworks in the city.

"The bill was a surprise," said HFD Chief John Garcia. "It's unfortunate, but we have to deal with it as best we can."

The Houston Fire Department would like to point out while you can transport fireworks through the city, if you're caught setting them off you can be fined anywhere from $500 to $2,000. And they no longer give warnings, but go straight to tickets.

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