Local News

Tolerance shown for fireworks on July 4

SEBRING - In Highlands County and most other places in Florida, you can likely get by with doing something illegal on July 4. Highlands County Chief Deputy Mark Schrader said Florida state law prohibits setting off any explosive device into the air without a special permit and that includes fireworks. But that doesn't mean Highlands County deputies are going to go out and wholesale arrest anyone who is setting off fireworks. "Our deputies use discretion," he said. "We want everyone to enjoy the Fourth of July, but we want to make sure they are safe."
Sebring Police Department Cmndr. Steve Carr said police officers show toleration, unless someone is shooting them off late in the night keeping people awake or shooting them in an unsafe manner. Carr and Schrader said their agencies get complaints about fireworks and react based upon the situation at hand. After the Fourth of July, Schrader said, deputies may be a bit less tolerant when they receive complaints. According to the website, About.com, the only fireworks that can be used in Florida without a special permit are sparklers. The site says that it is illegal to buy fireworks to use them as fireworks. Generally, the site notes, customers have to sign a special waiver form. "If you read this form carefully, you will notice that you're stating that you intend to use the fireworks for an approved purchase, such as use on your farm, or at your fish hatchery, to scare off animals," the site says. "This lets the store off the hook. If you're lying to them, that's your problem, not theirs, in the eyes of the law. The waiver protects the store, not you. The site also notes that for those who point out that a lot of people shoot off fireworks, the same can be said of speeding, jaywalking and other violations, but that doesn't guarantee someone won't be penalized. jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834