HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — Chesapeake firefighters like Capt. Steven Bradley are making sure you celebrate Independence Day safely.
“Ultimately, what goes up must come down,” Bradley said.
That includes making sure you know what you can and can’t do when it comes to fireworks.
According to Bradley, any fireworks that fly or explode are illegal, not just in Chesapeake, but throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“What we find is a lot of them are coming through shipping companies, and because of our close proximity to state lines, a lot of people go across state lines to get fireworks, many of those being illegal,” Bradley said.
Bradley says if someone is caught with illegal fireworks, they could face a fine of up to $2,500 or up to a year in jail.
“There are a lot of concerns for us,” Bradley said.
One of those concerns is people getting hurt. Recent data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) showed, from 2006 to 2021, there was a 25 percent rise in fireworks injuries.
Additionally, the report showed that in 2021, 74 percent of estimated fireworks-related injuries happened in the weeks before and after the Fourth of July.
In addition to injuries, damage to property is another huge concern.
“In my 45 years of dealing with this stuff, we’ve had people lose homes,” Chesapeake Master Deputy Fire Marshal William Brown said.
“They end up in places they aren’t intended, such as on somebody’s roof where they have dry leaves or straw, or into the woods. They can cause brush fires,” Bradley added.
Brown said something else to consider are pets and veterans.
“These fireworks going off can cause some type of PTSD-type syndrome, where they think they’re back in the war zone,” Brown said.
Bradley says it’s best for you to check which fireworks are legal and illegal where you live, with ordinances varying by city or county.
One example is sparklers being legal in cities like Hampton, but illegal in others like Chesapeake.
Fire crews say caps in toy guns and poppers that can be thrown on the ground are legal in Chesapeake. Bradley says fire officials permit authorized people to perform professional fireworks shows as long as they have certain certifications, are insured, and are a legitimate company that can perform a show safely.
“Don’t take something we’re celebrating and [have it end] up being a tragedy in the community or their family,” Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said.
Chief Drew says Newport News Police will have extra patrols out throughout the city for the holiday. A big concern of his is illegal celebratory gunfire.
“What we’ve seen in the past is [during] Fourth of July, much like New Year’s Eve, individuals will fire guns off and there will be [guns going off] throughout the night and the next day, people will wake up to a broken window or damage to a vehicle,” Drew said. “Firing guns off is not a way to celebrate the Fourth of July.”
Both Drew and Bradley are encouraging people to have fun and celebrate this Fourth of July, and leave the fireworks shows to the pros.
Check below for links to ordinances regarding fireworks: