You can buy #039;em here, but you can#039;t set #039;em off

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2002

This Fourth of July, some people choose to have fireworks displays in their own backyards.

But, people living in the state of Ohio have to jump across state lines to do it legally.

"People can set off trick and novelty fireworks, such as sparklers, in the state," said Sally Wagner, public information officer for the State Fire Marshal's Office. "These types can also be bought in your local grocery store."

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However, another class of fireworks known as 1.4 G, which includes bottle rockets, Roman candles, fountains and firecrackers, can only be bought from licensed wholesalers. There are no licensed fireworks wholesalers in Lawrence County.

Also, an Ohio resident purchasing the fireworks must sign a form stating that the fireworks will be transported out of the state within 48 hours. A non-resident has 72 hours.

"I'm not sure what they're thinking with these forms," said Patricia Cooper, owner of Crazy Coo's Fireworks in Wheelersburg, one of Scioto County's licensed wholesalers. "I do believe they do want people to know what the law is and make sure they're not under 18. I didn't make the law, but I have to abide by it."

Not abiding by the law can have consequences.

Not transporting the 1.4 G fireworks out of the state lines, setting them off within state lines, or falsifying information on the form is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine or six months in jail for first-time offenders. Subsequent violations are fifth-degree felonies.

Despite restrictions on setting off fireworks in Ohio, Cooper said she has been busy this week.

"Eighty percent of people wait until the last four weeks to buy," she said. "We've been in business for 14 years and we're right on par with what we usually do around the Fourth."

Cooper said her best-selling items are large, reloadable shells and loud skyrockets.

Also, Cooper said guidelines for setting off the fireworks are placed in each customer's bags and her employees always give advice to customers when they ask further questions.

Wagner advised people to use caution when using any type of fireworks.

"We all played with sparklers when we were kids," she said. "But even trick and novelty fireworks can reach temperatures up to 1,800 and 2,000 degrees. That's hot enough to melt gold. That's something you don't want to let your child play with unsupervised." Amelia Pridemore/The Ironton Tribune