Fire safety officials celebrate as fireworks bill flares out

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A bill that would have stopped local governments from regulating the use or sales of fireworks has flared out. It would have expanded the list of what types of fireworks are allowed.

Fireworks laws are staying the same, at least for this Fourth of July.  That means your local government gets to decide the rules.

One delegate was hoping to change that and create a statewide policy.  The bill drew from a national standard accepted in a number of other states and would have expanded the list of permissible fireworks to include ground-based fountains and spinners.  The possibility made many firefighters nervous.

"The bill would have impacted our resources from the standpoint of more calls on fires, more injuries, as well as more inspection time because businesses would have been allowed to have fireworks in them," said Richmond Fire Department's Chief David Creasy.

Supporters say the rules should be the same everywhere and the fireworks industry could generate more revenue for Virginia.  The bill was making some progress, even passing the house, but Wednesday afternoon, a Senate committee took it off the table for this session.  Firefighters believe their opposition helped.

"We certainly had a good showing from the Virginia Fire Service yesterday, the Virginia Municipal League was there; we had good support there yesterday to show and really explain what the specifics of the bill were so people would realize this would create a dangerous situation throughout the state," Creasy said.