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Safety first with fireworks

Few things are as captivating as a night sky sparkling with booming lights.

When celebrating the Fourth of July, fireworks undoubtedly come to mind, and while using them at home is usually harmless fun, Medford Fire-Rescue is urging residents to act with caution.

“Fireworks add a great element to the celebration that nothing else can, but there’s always a hazard with that,” said Medford Fire-Rescue Deputy Fire Marshal Steve Parks. “Ultimately, we want to encourage people to be safe and make good and responsible choices.”

Parks said Medford Fire-Rescue is asking residents to act with “wisdom and common sense” when using fireworks — especially because the Oregon Department of Forestry has declared the fire danger level “high” in Southern Oregon.

“We are well and truly into fire season,” Parks said. “In this heat, fuels are drying out and conditions are more dangerous, so it’s extra important that people are conscientious of that and making good, safe decisions.”

Medford Fire-Rescue reminds residents that the use of fireworks is prohibited on the Bear Creek Greenway, hazardous wildfire areas, hillside areas and any city park or public school.

Legal fireworks include fountains, spinners, wheels, smoke devices and sparklers. Legal fireworks do not explode, fly into the air or travel from their ignition point more than 12 feet horizontally.

“Any firework that flies into the air, rolls more than 12 feet horizontally across the ground, explodes or behaves in an uncontrolled and unpredictable manner is illegal in the state of Oregon,” according to Medford Fire-Rescue.

Illegal fireworks include mortars, aerial spinners, bottle or sky rockets and Roman candles. Explosive devices, including firecrackers and M-80s, are prohibited in Oregon.

Police and fire officials will be out patrolling and say they will confiscate illegal fireworks and explosives and issue citations, which can run $250.

“Have buckets of water ready, a garden hose nearby and adult supervision if children are participating,” Parks said. “And always have your audience sitting back at a distance, even when using fireworks you assume to be safe.”

And, Parks said, it’s important to remember your pets.

“We really like to encourage folks to think about their pets, because the loud noises can be too much for most animals,” Parks said. “Make sure dogs are secured in kennels and safely inside during the excitement.”

Even when the explosions begin to die down for the night, Parks said to make sure that attention to safety doesn’t.

“Even with used fireworks, it’s important to soak them before throwing them away,” Parks said. “Sometimes heat deep inside fireworks that people presume to be dead can continue to smolder and start fires later on, and we want to avoid that. We want all fireworks to be done when the night is.”

For more information, see www.ci.medford.or.us/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=5.

Reach Mail Tribune reporting intern Morgan Theophil at mtheophil@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4485. Follow her on Twitter @morgan_theophil.

Oregon State Fire MarshalChart of illegal fireworks.
Mail Tribune file photo.