Most people expect to see flashing lights and big explosions during Fourth of July celebrations. Now, firework users may need to take a closer look at new rules before lighting a match.
The Wichita County Commissioners approved new firework guidelines today. The dry conditions are impacting this year's Fourth of July celebrations.
Fireworks are allowed to be fired outside city limits, but there will soon be more rules. The court made emphasis that one of the most important firework guidelines are that fireworks may not be used within the right-of-way on a public road or highway.
This is a very common problem, and often hard to control, according to officials.
"Our goal is not to restrict people from having fun and celebrating the Fourth of July," said Woody Gossum, Wichita County Judge. "The goal is to have that done safely and not cause fires."
If you plan on shooting off fireworks, you must have a minimum of five gallons of water available on site. You also need a different person over 18-year-old, to act as a spotter for possible flare ups.
Judge Gossum and the county commissioners have worked with several local firework stand owners on these guidelines. However, even though the guidelines are to promote safety during the drought, one local firework stand owner did not fully agree on every aspect of the new rules.
Russell's Fireworks owner, Russell Nettles, said he agrees with the county commissioners in wanting safety to be priority during this time. They want home owners and firework users to be aware of the rules and safety precautions.
In fact, Nettles made warning signs for residents to hang on fences to warn potential law violators. He had about 500 signs made. He even gave the commissioners court a number to distribute.
Nettles opened his doors for business today, for the first time this Fourth of July season.
"We're optimistic we can make the guidelines a little simpler," Nettles said. "We have in the past, and it should be very easy to comply with, should be no issues at all."
He had some disputes about the new rules. Nettles attorney spoke today about some of the problems they thought existed in the new guidelines.
"The goal was to come up with a compromise to give all Wichita County residents the ability to use their fireworks safely this year," Nettles said.
Judge Gossum has agreed to give those little discrepancies a second look before submitting a final letter to Governor Rick Perry.
"I would like to have the firework owners support this at the governor's office, to extend these restrictions," Gossum said.
Meanwhile, Nettles plans on doing what he can to educate his customers about safety issues.
"It's been my traditional safety message for a long, long time," Nettles said. "So I don't see it having a whole lot of impact on me."
Another local fireworks owner said he's had a good experience with county commissioners, during the tough drought conditions.
"I've worked closely with the county commissioners of Archer, Clay, and Wichita Counties," said Glenn Tarter, Owner of Big State Fireworks. "They've all been wonderful. They don't want to hurt local business owners, but they do want to hold the responsibility to those who shoot the fireworks."
He also agrees that fire safety is a huge concern. Big State Fireworks has a place they host fireworks.
They let people come out and even shoot their own fireworks. He said every year there is a big turnout.
"Last year there were thousands of people, and this year there will be at least that many," Tarter said. "We take care of everything, we have security, and we allow people to shoot their fireworks. It's a good environment and a fun for the family."
Judge Gossum is still going over exact wording for the official guidelines. He expects to sign off on it June 25. However, if it takes longer, the new guidelines will go in effect immediately after it is signed. The new rules will go through July 31.