Bill would end fireworks ban in Florida

By Margaret Kavanagh, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013, 8:25 AM

Right now there are literally fireworks over a proposed bill in Tallahassee. A lawmaker is working to change a law that would make it legal to buy fireworks that explode in the air.

But leaders with the Florida Fire Chiefs Association said they fear that it could put lives in danger.

Fireworks are a tradition on many holidays including the 4th of July.

Orlando Special Effects owner Andy Nicholls sells fireworks a few weeks before the 4th of July every year.  “I’m a big advocate for fireworks.  I love fireworks.  I’ve been doing this for 30 years.”

He supports this bill filed by State Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Fort Walton Beach. The bill would lift the ban on certain fireworks in Florida and make it easier to buy and sell them.

Right now most fireworks that explode in the air like Roman candles and bottle rockets are illegal

But there is a loophole in the law which makes it legal to sell to people if they sign a waiver stating they are using the fireworks for agricultural purposes like scaring away birds from crops.

“Fortunately, enough people enjoy and love fireworks as a family in this country and this state, that there is so much activity around New Years and the 4th of July, that they can’t possibly enforce it,” said Nicholls.

But Leaders with the Florida Fire Chiefs Association said they think lifting the ban on fireworks is a bad idea. They believe it could put more people in danger and cause more injuries and fires.  "Leave it to the professionals.  They do a wonderful job managing it, controlling it and it’s safer, much safer,"  said Florida Fire Chiefs Association President Ron Parrish.

But Nicholls disagrees. "If you make it illegal everybody is sneaking around and not learning how to do it safely.”

The bill was filed in August and debate is expected to heat up in the coming months.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission there were 8,700 people injured by fireworks in the United States in 2012.