If it’s not evident from the large white tents and the snap-crackle-pop coming from the neighbor’s backyard, it’s fireworks season.

With the Fourth of July less than a week away, Valencia County Fire Chief Matt Propp is urging the public to be very cautious while celebrating.

“We got a pretty good amount of moisture in a short amount of time which led to a false feeling of safety and security,” Propp said.

VCFD Chief Matt Propp

All that moisture led to rapid growth of undergrowth and vegetation, which is now drying out rapidly and posing a fire hazard.

“We are urging people, if they do use fireworks, to use what are considered ‘safe and sane.’ Those are pretty much any fireworks you can buy at large retail stores and vendors in most of Valencia County,” he said.

“Safe and sane” fireworks are typically devices that remain on the ground and don’t explode. The majority of municipalities and Valencia County prohibit the sale and use of aerial devices, such as bottle rockets and ground audible devices, such as firecrackers.

The town of Peralta’s ordinances does allow for aerial and ground audible devices within its limits.

Best practices for using any fireworks, include lighting devices on paved or bare ground and having a water supply readily available. Propp also suggested clearing and mowing any overgrowth in the area if possible before setting off fireworks.

While county fire personnel will be responding to any calls for fires or injuries during the Fourth of July holiday, the chief said they don’t have the resources to chase down fireworks violations.

“People can call the non-emergency number, but there’s no guarantee we are going to be able to come out to investigate,” Propp said. “We will be busy with regular calls and don’t have time to commit to that.

“We need folks to realize we are resource short, and any big fire has the potential to become catastrophic. We can’t commit our units to fireworks complaints. If there is a fire or injury, we will respond accordingly, but we will not be patrolling or doing enforcement.”

Fireworks safety tips

  • Never give fireworks to young children.
  • Stay sober. Never use fireworks with alcohol or drug consumption.
  • Have a working hose and/or bucket of water nearby in case of emergencies.
  • Never carry a firework in your pocket or hold a lit firework in your hand.
  • Never shoot fireworks from a metal or glass container.
  • Keep spectators at a safe distance and never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a firework, even when lighting.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never approach or try to re-ignite a firework that doesn’t light the first time.
  • Soak your used fireworks in a metal bucket overnight and outside away from anything flammable.

(Source: TNT Fireworks)

To access the full list of TNT safety tips, visit TNTFireworks.com.

What’s your Reaction?

Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.