Residential fireworks are troublesome, dangerous

Nigel Willis held his daughter, Giselle, on his shoulders as they watched fireworks during Fort Gordon's annual Independence Day celebration in 2014. Professional fireworks displays are impressive, but personal use of fireworks can be damaging.

 

 

Why is the use of loud, explosive fireworks legal and acceptable in residential neighborhoods when it clearly disturbs the peace that citizens should be able to expect in their own homes?

Professional fireworks displays, carried out by pyrotechnic specialists, with safety nets in place, are truly a wonder to behold. But the use of fireworks for several days around certain holidays each year, at all hours of the day and night, is a nightmare that people are forced to endure. It is not simply one family’s entertainment, as the explosions can be heard for blocks around where they originate. One person’s rights should end when they start to affect those of another person.

 

SHOOTING OFF EXPLOSIVE fireworks into the air, in residential neighborhoods is not “patriotism.” (There are many ways to show patriotism that don’t include total disregard for others.) It is a blatant act of disrespect to all the neighbors who don’t care for fireworks, as they know they can get away with it. It is extremely inconsiderate. It sounded like a war zone in Goshen, from noon until well past midnight.

Even when I have called the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, they refuse to do anything about it. What happened to my right to reasonable peace and quiet in my own home? What happened to noise ordinances? If there is a loud party or loud music in a car, people are asked to tone it down or be cited. If there were gunshots, who would know? Why is this tolerated?

There are solutions. The current ordinance can and should be customized. People could simply go watch the big professional displays put on in several locations, on many holidays. Fireworks should be restricted from use in residential neighborhoods, where they affect people other than the ones using them. Use them in areas where there are no neighbors to bother.

There could be time restrictions, like two hours starting at sunset, and definitely not beyond 10 p.m. There could be specific locations where they are allowed, such as school parking lots, or shopping center parking lots that are not in use at that time on those holidays.

There has to be a better solution than for people and animals to be forced to endure something that clearly bothers them. And then put it in the news and in the newspaper. Instead of advertising for the sale and use of them, remind people that fireworks are a safety hazard, and that there are restrictions as to where and when they can be used. Then enforce the rules.

 

COLLECTING THE TAX revenue from the sales of fireworks should come with some responsibility and consideration of all citizens. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, seniors and small children are just a few of the people who are traumatized by the long hours of explosions. Animals, particularly family pets, are severely traumatized. Their hearing is so much stronger than ours, and they don’t understand.

It is incumbent on city leaders to find a better solution to this troublesome issue. It is long overdue.

 

(The writer is co-owner of the Village Deli in Augusta, and the founder and president of the animal rescue group That’s What Friends Are For.)

 

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