CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The Fourth of July is right around the corner, so Clarksville Police are acquainting residents with information about local fireworks ordinances, state laws and fireworks safety.
In Clarksville, in accordance with City code Sec 10-218, fireworks may be exploded, fired, shot, or set off inside the City Corporate Limits from July 1 to July 5 between the hours of 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Except for City conducted or sponsored events, it is unlawful for any person, organization, group or entity to possess, use, explode, fire, shoot or set off any type of fireworks from within any City park, or recreational facility or property.
Also, it is unlawful for any person under 16 to use, explode, or possess any fireworks within the City Limits unless they are under the direct supervision of an adult at least 18.
Tennessee Code Annotated 68-104-112 also adds that it is unlawful to explode or ignite fireworks within 600 feet of any church, hospital, asylum, public school, or within 200 feet of where fireworks are stored, sold or offered for sale.
Additionally, no person may ignite or discharge any fireworks within or throw any articles of fireworks from a motor vehicle, or throw any ignited article of fireworks into or at a motor vehicle, or at or near any person or group of people.
2020 EXPERIENCE PROMPTED SAFETY REVIEW
Clarksville saw an alarming increase in fireworks-related calls for service in 2020, which led Mayor Joe Pitts to conduct a review of the fireworks data and meet with public safety agencies fireworks businesses after the July Fourth holiday.
Police Chief David Crockarell said that fireworks-related calls for service jumped to 670 in the period from May 15 to July 15, 2020, up from an average rate of 300-350 over the same period from 2016-19. One of those calls resulted in an ongoing arson investigation after a residence was hit by fireworks and burned. Some of the calls resulted in custodial arrests.
Clarksville Fire Rescue officials said property damage from fireworks in 2020 totaled more than $250,000. In one instance, fireworks caused a major injury to a juvenile.
Officials noted that 50 fireworks tents obtained seasonal sales permits and set up shop in Clarksville in 2020. Five regional operators account for the majority of the tent permits, with one company responsible for 24 outlets in the City.
State law allows such outlets to sell fireworks from June 20 to July 5, and from Dec. 10 to Jan 2. Two other outlets have annual licenses, which allow them to sell fireworks throughout the year.
Mayor Pitts followed up with fireworks wholesalers and retailers in an email this week.
“I think it’s reasonable to conclude the pandemic lockdown and the lack of community-sponsored fireworks displays played a role in the 2020 surge in fireworks-related activity and the number of calls for service,” Mayor Pitts said. “We hope the return of public celebrations and progress against the pandemic will improve our 2021 experience. Thus, we will impose no new restrictions for the coming 2021 Fourth of July seasonal celebrations. However, we will continue to monitor and assess what happens this year and reserve the possibility of imposing some new fireworks restrictions in the future if we see a repeat of the problems we encountered in 2020.”
The City of Clarksville will present its annual Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, July 3 at Liberty Park. The event will be free and open to the public. The park will open at 5 p.m. with activities and music beginning at 6:50 p.m. The evening will conclude with the firework show at 9 p.m.
DESPITE INJURIES & DAMAGE, FIREWORKS BUSINESS GROWS
Nationwide, fireworks-related injuries have been increasing. For 2019, the latest year with complete data, the Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that fireworks were involved in an estimated 10,000 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, up some 900 incidents over 2018. The Commission also said that 36 percent of fireworks injuries involved children under 15 years of age, and that fireworks were involved in 12 nonoccupational fireworks-related deaths in 2019.
In 2018, the latest year with complete property data, an estimated 19,500 fires started by fireworks were reported to local fire departments in the United States. These fires caused five civilian deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Despite injuries and property damage, fireworks remain popular and a big business. The American Pyrotechnics Association reports that across America more than $1.993 billion of revenue was generated in 2020 from the sale and display of more than 404.5 million pounds of consumer and display fireworks. Volume of consumer fireworks sold and displayed was up significantly in 2020, while display fireworks volume was down dramatically because of pandemic-related reduction of public celebrations around the July 4, 2020 holiday.
FIREWORKS SAFETY TIPS
Clarksville Police offer these safety tips for handling fireworks:
- Know your fireworks, read the labels and understand the specifications before igniting.
- A responsible adult, 18 or older, should oversee and ensure the proper use of fireworks.
- Wear proper safety gear, such as safety glasses and gloves, when shooting fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and then move away.
- Ensure fireworks are used outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings, cars, or other potential hazards. Keep away from dry grass, brush, leaves and flammable substances.
- Have a bucket of water, charged water hose, or fire extinguisher nearby.