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Keeping a watchful eye on fireworks
RIVER VALLEY -- Fire officials and selectmen will be keeping a close eye around the Fourth of July, the first since Maine repealed the fireworks ban and allowed municipalities to propose their own ordinances for fireworks.
In Rumford, citizens voted in favor to allow personal use of fireworks, but requiring retail outlets to be permitted by the town.
At Thursday's meeting of the Rumford Board of Selectmen, Selectman Jeremy Volkernick noted that, periodically, the sounds of small fireworks and firecrackers could be heard during the night.
Noting that the town does not have an ordinance regarding consumer fireworks, he asked that citizens using these be respectful to people living in the area. "Don't do them at 11 or 12 at night. I don't want us to have to develop another ordinance."
Board Chairman Greg Buccina, who is heading up the River Valley Fourth of July committee, added that at their second annual event at Hosmer Field on July 4th, "We will allow sparklers, but no fireworks, no bottle rockets."
It should be noted that the tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third degree burns.
Rumford Fire Chief Bob Chase reminded people that you have to be 21 years of age and they have to be shot from your own property or property where you have the property owner's permission. Individuals cannot set off fireworks in public parks or from rental properties, except with permission.
"One concern I have is that we have a lot of structures in close proximity," he noted, adding that he recommends people have a clear area of a minimim 100 feet in diameter when firing fireworks.
"I've been getting phone calls from people who own woodlots, some from away, who are concerned about a woods fire from fireworks. They are in support of an ordinance," said Chase, adding, "Legislators put us in the state we're in."
"I will ask our on-duty crew to note the calls we have on fireworks," said the chief. Depending upon the use or misuse, an ordinance may be developed to better manage fireworks.
In Mexico, residents voted in favor of restricting the sale of consumer fireworks in the town, and voted to restrict the use of consumer fireworks in the town.
To clarify, Mexico Town Manager John Madigan said these articles will likely be interpreted as meaning that citizens wish for an ordinance to be developed by the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board. Such an ordinance would likely be voted upon during the November referendum.
Until that time, the state law regarding consumer fireworks is in effect.
Mexico Fire Chief Gary Wentzell said until now, there hasn't been any issues with consumer fireworks, noting that the only change is the selling of lower scale fireworks. He added that at some point, he will sit down with the Board of Selectmen to discuss this issue.
The State Fire Marshal's Office has a complete up to date list on all the rules and regulations for fireworks use and what the local city and town ordinances are on its website.
Manchester opened the first place in the state to start selling consumer fireworks. Since then, six others have opened, including one in South Paris. Three other stores in the state have been approved.
Consumer fireworks may be used between the hours of 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., except for July 4 and Dec. 31, and the weekends before after July 4 and Dec. 31, when they may be used between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. the following day.
If you have any questions, contact the State Fire Marshal's Office at (207) 626-3873.