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Fire marshal urges Fourth of July fireworks safety
By Staff reports

June 28. 2013 9:03AM
PIERRE, S.D. – Legal sale of fireworks in South Dakota started Thursday, and Fire Marshal Paul Merriman is urging residents to be safe and sensible as they celebrate Independence Day.

“Fireworks have long been a traditional part of the Fourth of July celebration in South Dakota, but every year we have a few injuries and some unintentional fires,’’ Merriman said. “While much of the state has experienced much-needed moisture in recent months, we still caution anyone using fireworks to cooperate in keeping us all safe and fire-free. Common sense goes a long way.’’

The 2013 South Dakota Legislature changed state law to allow the discharge of fireworks from June 27 until the Sunday after July 4. This year, that means it’s legal to discharge fireworks through Sunday, July 7. Previously, July 5 was the legal end date for use of fireworks in the state.

Individual cities may adopt stricter limits on use of fireworks, and Merriman suggests citizens check local ordinances and regulations.

He also said staff with the State Fire Marshal’s Office will be out during the legal sales period inspecting retail fireworks stands to make sure the products being offered for sale in South Dakota are legal consumer fireworks.

“We aren’t trying to take the fun out of the holiday, but we do want to make sure the fireworks being sold meet legal requirements,’’ Merriman said.

The National Fire Protection Association says recent statistics show that nationally in 2010 fireworks caused an estimated 1,100 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 14,100 outside and other fires with eight civilian deaths and $36 million in property damage. The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children age 5-14, the association said.

Merriman offered a few simple safety tips: Follow the instructions on the product, avoid using fireworks in places where a fire could start and keep a source of water handy.

Sparklers are popular with younger children, but they can cause painful burns and should be used with adult supervision, Merriman said.

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