Arlington, VA

The Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents to be careful when using fireworks at their homes on the Fourth of July.

Capt. Gregg Karl says the first step to fireworks safety is to make sure you’re using fireworks that are legal in Arlington County. Any fireworks purchased from an authorized fireworks stand in the county should comply with county regulations, Karl said. Those regulations specify that the fireworks emit a flame or spark less than 12 feet in the air.

Any fireworks that  are “projectiles, explode, emit flames or sparks to a distance greater than twelve (12) feet are prohibited by Arlington County,” according to the county’s fireworks safety web page. The fire department also has a 42 page long list of fireworks approved for use in Arlington.

To prevent your fireworks from lighting anything on fire, Karl recommends placing them away from structures and watering down any nearby grass or brush.

“If you’re going to do any [legal fireworks], make sure you’re away from buildings and combustibles,” he said. “If you’re on grass, make sure you wet the ground around it. Please use extreme caution due to the dry conditions.”

Karl noted that fireworks should not be lit on county streets or sidewalks.

Other personal fireworks safety tips from the county include:

  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal “safe” firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never shoot a firework at or near another person.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
  • Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
  • Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
  • Observe local laws.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
  • Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.

Arlington fire marshals will be patrolling the county and responding to resident complaints about fireworks tomorrow, Karl said. Any illegal fireworks will be confiscated and a warning will be issued. Repeat offenders may be issued a summons to appear in court.

Police will also be on the lookout for illegal fireworks, but will be more focused on traffic control efforts connected to the fireworks display on the National Mall. The fireworks are scheduled to run between 9:10 and 9:30 p.m. Viewing areas in and around Arlington include the Iwo Jima memorial, the Air Force Memorial, Gravelly Point, Rosslyn Gateway Park and Long Bridge Park.

“Our Special Operations Section is going to be out there directing and monitoring all traffic,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

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