Fireworks regulations vary from county to county - FOX 13 News

Fireworks regulations vary from county to county

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The local fireworks industry has adapted to different regulations in different counties, and so have some consumers.

Inside a tent in St. Petersburg filled with a wide variety of sparklers, Galaxy Firework's Brian Ruiz explains.

"Everything here is called safe and sane here in Pinellas County. That means nothing actually leaves the ground. But if you're looking for something that goes up in the air and reports [noisily explodes] you're going to have to go to our Tampa location and buy those."

Asked if some people do both, Ruiz responded "Absolutely."

In late 2003, Pinellas County required buyers of Class C fireworks to obtain a permit, and sellers to see that permit.

Fire Division Manager Mike Cooksey said the requirement reduced the number of fireworks-related fires and injuries from 26 in 2003 to 14 in 2011, the last year statistics were gathered.

"We've seen a reduction and not an increase and on a national level we continue to see an increase," Cooksey pointed out.

Polk and Brevard counties adopted local ordinances similar to Pinellas county's.

In Florida's other 64 counties, consumers sign an affidavit stating their intended use of Class C fireworks is for a purpose allowed by state law: Railroad yard signaling, quarries, and scaring birds away from fish farms.

Sellers are not required to confirm the legitimacy of the buyer's claim.

Hillsborough County Fire Marshall Stephen Kendrick told FOX 13 News Hillsborough fire officials are prepared to ask for restrictions similar to those in Pinellas, but they have been blocked by the Florida Legislature.

In 2007, lawmakers imposed a moratorium on local fireworks regulations and appointed a committee to study the issues. Cooksey and Kendrick said there has been no legislative action since then, and the moratorium remains in place.

Cooksey admitted some people will bring Class C fireworks into Pinellas, and there will still be some fireworks-related fires and injuries this Fourth of July.

"About 35 percent of the injuries that are treated in emergency rooms nationally are to the face and the head," Cooksey said.

The lesson: Do not look down at fireworks that have not gone off.

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