December 23, 2012

First year of legal fireworks is relatively uneventful

Based on a low number of injuries and fires, Maine's expert will recommend no changes to the law.

By BEN McCANNA Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Tyler Basinger restocks shelves as customers line up in July at the Pyro City fireworks store in Manchester. Owner Steve Marson said he plans to open two more stores in Maine next year. “In my opinion, it was a very safe year,” he said.

Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

STATE FIRE MARSHAL GUIDELINES

Earlier this year, Acting State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas issued a news release saying that fireworks users must:

Be 21 or older.

Buy fireworks at state-licensed stores.

Check with municipalities for local ordinances governing the use of fireworks.

Avoid areas or conditions that are susceptible to fires, such as dry grass or timber.

Use fireworks only between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Use fireworks only on one's own property, or another's property if written permission is given.

Keep a garden hose, water bucket or fire extinguisher nearby.

Wear eye protection.

Follow all directions provided on packaging.

Light only one device at a time.

Keep spectators at a safe distance.

Be considerate of neighbors, pets and the environment.

Clean up debris when finished.

Stand clear of any device that does not discharge for at least 15 minutes; then douse it with water.

Maintain close supervision of children; keep them at a safe distance and make sure fireworks are kept out their reach.

Call 911 in an emergency.

STATE LAW AND LOCAL RULES ON FIREWORKS

SINCE the state law allowing use and sale of commercial fireworks took effect Jan. 1, more than 50 Maine communities have enacted their own fireworks ordinances:

Andover: Sale and use banned.

Auburn: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell banned.

Augusta: Ban on use and sale.

Bangor: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell or use banned.

Bath: Use and sale banned.

Biddeford: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell or use banned.

Boothbay Harbor: Use and sale banned.

Brunswick: Use and sale banned.

Buxton: Use and sale banned.

Caribou: Fire permit required for use; use restricted to certain areas of town.

Cumberland: Sale banned; use restricted to five days per year, on holidays.

Damariscotta: Sale banned; use restricted to certain areas.

Eliot: Use banned.

Ellsworth: Use banned during periods of high fire danger -- class 4 or greater.

Fairfield: Sale allowed with permit; use restricted to July 2-6.

Falmouth: Use and sale banned.

Farmingdale: Use permitted 5--10 p.m. only, except July 3--5, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. May not be used at all when fire danger, as designated by the Maine Forest Service, is class 4 or 5. Three complaints about any user will result in that user not being allowed to use fireworks in Farmingdale.

Freeport: Sale and possession with intent to sell banned; use within 50 feet of any public way banned.

Frye Island: Use banned "unless sanctioned by the Town of Frye Island Board of Selectmen."

Gardiner: Ban on use; sale permitted.

Greenwood: Sale banned; use restricted to holidays and banned during periods of high fire danger -- class 3 or greater.

Hallowell: Use restricted to certain areas of city. Contact city officials for more information.

Harpswell: Sale banned; use restricted to five specified days per year.

Harrison: Use and sale banned.

Hermon: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell banned.

Hollis: Use and sale banned.

Kennebunkport: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell banned.

Lewiston: Sale banned.

Mechanic Falls: Use restricted to Fridays and Saturdays, plus four holidays.

Mount Desert: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell banned.

North Berwick: Use restricted to 50 feet from combustibles; banned during periods of high fire danger -- class 4 or greater.

North Yarmouth: Use within 50 feet of any public way is banned.

Old Orchard Beach: Use and sale banned.

Orono: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell banned.

Owls Head: Use and sale banned.

Portland: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell banned.

Rockland: Use and sale banned.

Saco: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell banned.

Sanford: Use banned.

Scarborough: Sale is allowed with permit; use restricted to five specified days per year.

Skowhegan: Use is permitted, sale is banned.

South Portland: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell or use banned.

Unity: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell banned.

Waldoboro: Fire permit required for use; use banned during periods of high fire danger -- class 4 or greater; use within 50 feet of public land banned; use downtown banned.

Waterville: Use and sale banned.

Wayne: Use and sale banned.

Wells: Use and sale banned.

Winslow: Town permit needed for sale.

Winthrop: Use OK 9 a.m.--9 p.m., extended to 12:30 a.m. Fourth of July, New Year's Eve and weekends before and after those holidays. Sale banned.

Wiscasset: Sale limited to certain areas of town; use banned.

Woodstock: Sale banned.

Yarmouth: Use, sale and possession with intent to sell banned.

York: Use and sale banned.

Source: staff reports and www.maine.gov/dps/fmo/fireworks

"They certainly could have been a lot worse," Audette said of the fires. "They were near misses, as I call them."

Overall, fireworks sales were strong in 2012, according to Steve Marson, the owner of five retail fireworks stores in Maine. Business is so good that he plans to open two more Pyro City Maine stores next year -- one in southern Maine and another in either Piscataquis County or Somerset County.

"Fourth of July and Labor Day were very big for us, but in October sales started dropping right off," he said.

Marson said he's in the midst of an advertising blitz to juice sales for Christmas and New Year's Eve. He also hopes wintertime use will pick up once people realize fireworks' colors are doubly bright when exploding over a reflective blanket of snow.

In the meantime, four of his stores have shifted to winter hours until April and he reduced his staff by almost half. At the high point, the company employed 41 full-time workers in the retail stores and offices -- many of whom were college students -- but now he's down to 22 full-time employees, he said.

Still, Marson said his business has been a boost to local economies. He said his employees earn a starting wage of $9.50 an hour, two weeks paid vacation, five paid personal days and a clothing allowance. The company also pays 50 percent of employees' health insurance premiums, he said.

"We're a small business that is giving benefits to people. There are a lot of small businesses out there that can't afford that or wouldn't even think of doing that," he said.

Marson said he's also proud that Maine had relatively few injuries and fires during its first year with fireworks.

"In my opinion, it was a very safe year," he said.

 

Waterville Staff Writer Ben McCanna can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

bmccanna@centralmaine.com

 

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