Fireworks ban could be lifted - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Bill lifting fireworks ban in Virginia moving through General Assembly


The General Assembly is considering lifting the state's ban on some home fireworks. The Senate has passed the bill. A House subcommittee advanced it yesterday, but with an amendment that may turn off some supporters.

Currently, Virginia bans any home fireworks that explode or shoot into the air, such as bottle rockets, firecrackers, and roman candles.

Senator Tom Garrett of Louisa wants that ban lifted to allow federally approved home fireworks to be sold and set off in localities that choose to allow it.

Said Garrett, "Essentially what you might stop and purchase at South of the Border on your way back from Florida."

His reason? To create jobs and tax revenue. He cites Indiana's fireworks sales as an example.

"Eight hundred to one thousand jobs full time, annually averaged over 3 years, 8,000 to 10,000 seasonal jobs and millions of dollars in revenue in sales tax and licensing fees to the state," said Garrett.

But fireworks can cause injuries and fires. So it may surprise you that the Virginia State Firefighters Association have not been fighting against the bill.

Explains David Bailey, spokesperson for the VSFA, "Our support came because local ordinances still can stay in effect. Also people under 18 cannot posses the fireworks."

Added Robby Dawson, past-president of the VSFA, "I do not support the bill. I think it is not a great idea to allow a more dangerous product in the hands of people that we've shown is a dangerous product. Plain and simple is that the bill that Senator Garrett has written, has maintained our ability to regulate fireworks locally."

However, the House General Laws subcommittee passed the bill with an amendment yesterday that Senator Garrett's office says "has caused a great rift in our support from the fire chiefs, who have worked with us on the bill for the past year."

The amendment removed a provision that would have given Fire Marshals safety enforcement over fireworks sellers.

Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield ban all fireworks other than public displays. Hanover, Petersburg, and Colonial Heights do not have additional bans. Some localities allow smaller fireworks, such as sparklers, fountains, and whirligigs.

Said Garrett, "If the City of Richmond doesn't want to be part of it, that's fine. If Chesterfield doesn't want to be part of it, that's fine. But maybe the difference is in Amelia, or Goochland or Fluvanna may indicate it's something they are interested in."

Right now it's up to the House. Governor McAuliffe's office did not respond to our email asking if he would sign it.

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