Dry conditions, fireworks make for nervous mixture

By Michael Harrell: PNT Staff Writer

With dry conditions and bans on some types of fireworks in place, local fire officials are nervous about the possiblity of fires while vendors are concerned that business may fizzle.

Eric Segovia, the manager of two Segovia Fireworks stands in Portales said stands are going to have to go ‘safe and sane’ this year. A state-wide ban has disallowed vendors to sell high-risk fireworks such as bottle-rockets, artillery shells and roman candles.

“I think the ban is a really good thing — it really helps prevent fires, but it does hurt sales” said Joy Griffe, manager of Roadrunner Fireworks in Portales.

The stands work out of commission, so they lose the sales of the more elaborate fireworks, said Griffe. Fountains, sparklers and firecrackers are a few of the many kinds of fireworks still available, though still potentially dangerous, according to Segovia.

Safety should be the chief concern for vendors and the people they’re selling to, says Portales Fire Marshall Michael Inge. The severe drought of the state makes safety a major concern when it comes to the use of fireworks, he said. He also added that fireworks stands are required to include safety precautions for every customer as well as follow a strict set of guidelines themselves.

“With the state’s dry heat and low humidity, fires start really quick,” Inge said.

Having an adult present and keeping a water hose close are the most important safety precautions for users, said Darwin Chenault, a city fire marshall.

Firework stands are under heavy ordinances by the state, city and fire department to keep the sale and use of fireworks safe, Chenault said. They must inform buyers of safety measures to take to prevent grass fires or injuries as well as follow rules themselves for the products they’re selling.

The most important thing is for the community to carefully follow the safety measures, Chenault said. Each stand is required to include a sheet of safety tips and instructions with each purchase.

Chenault and Inge inspect each fireworks stand that wants to open in Portales before they can sell, a requirement made by the local fire department. Inge said they make sure they are not selling anything illegal, have the proper safety bulletins, keep a fire extinguisher handy and are selling in a safe location.

Vendors are restricted to a two-week sales window that began Tuesday and ends July 6.

“We go to the vendors and look to make sure they are safe,” Chenault said.

If the community does things safe and mature then hopefully there will be zero grass fires or injuries, Inge said.