DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — When bringing in the new year, many like to reflect on the year behind them and celebrate the year ahead.
Many of these New Year’s celebrations include the shooting of fireworks. While the colorful explosions in the sky may look harmless, a Dothan Police Lieutenant Scott Owens says fireworks can be compared to gunfire.
“You’ve got to understand that a bullet is essentially the same as a firework,” Lt. Owens said. “There is an ignition source that’s inside a compacted area and it’s that that shoots out the fireworks. It looks pretty in the sky, but there have been deaths associated with fireworks.”‘
Due to a city ordinance, it is illegal to shoot fireworks in the Dothan city limits, but despite the law against explosives, Dothan Police still receive a high call volume on fireworks.
According to Lt. Owens, when responding to those calls, the police department is looking to take an educational approach.
“We will try to identify what house they’re coming from, let them know about the ordinance, but it’s going to be more of an education versus an enforcement type of posture that we’re going to have,” Lt. Ownes said. “If we have to come out repeated times, we may have to take enforcement action. We can write what they call an ordinance citation, which is for you to appear in court, there can be a fine associated with it.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks start over 19,000 fires and send over 9,000 people to the emergency room every year in the U.S.
They suggest celebrating with safer alternatives like glow sticks, silly string, or noisemakers.