Fireworks: What's legal and what isn't

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Countywide, police and fire officials are preparing for the Fourth of July weekend ahead and the discharge of fireworks.

In the corporate city limits of Berryville and Eureka Springs, the discharge of fireworks is strictly forbidden by municipal ordinance and offenders could be cited.

Only city-sponsored public displays are allowed, such as Berryville's Fire on the Mountain.

In Green Forest, fireworks are allowed, but only on July 3 and July 4, and only from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., from a private home or property.

Police Chief John Bailey outlined the rules and regulations regarding the discharge of fireworks within his city limits.

Besides the limited dates and times, Bailey said fireworks may not be discharged within 600 feet of any church or school, nor within 600 feet of the town square.

In addition, people may not discharge fireworks within 200 feet of places where fireworks are sold or stored. That is state law, he said.

It is also illegal to discharge fireworks from a motor vehicle, he added, or to shoot fireworks near people or groups of people.

Those who disregard the rules are apt to encounter police intervention, he said, because his department plans to respond to all complaints.

"Generally, the first time we are called, we will advise them of the city ordinance. If we are called back a second time, they could receive a citation for violation of the city ordinance.

"People need to understand that they are responsible for where their fireworks go -- and be aware of the direction they are shooting," he said. "If they are irritating neighbors, we'll have to come by and ask them to alter their actions."

Not only should residents be aware of the direction they shoot their rockets, but also the time of day.

"I would hope they shoot responsibly, and during decent hours, from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., on July 3rd and 4th only," Bailey said. "And, the use of fireworks by children must be supervised by an adult. That is always a good idea.

"If people are irresponsible," he added, "it may affect fireworks regulations in future years."

In the unincorporated areas of the county, there is no ordinance against the discharge of fireworks.

However, according to Capt. Alan Hoos, with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, those involved in fireworks-related incidents could face endangerment or criminal mischief charges -- if they damage persons or property. He suggested people use "good judgement."

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