07/03/12 — Experts: Fireworks are dangerous

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Experts: Fireworks are dangerous

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 3, 2012 1:46 PM

As Goldsboro residents get ready to light up their grills and celebrate the Fourth of July, experts are reminding residents to be careful with fireworks.

The trouble with fireworks is that people often don't realize how dangerous -- and illegal -- they can be, said State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin.

"They are extremely dangerous if you don't handle them the right way," said Rick Pridgen, who has been handling fireworks displays with Hale Artificier of Lexington for 15 years.

Goodwin said a lot of North Carolinians go to South Carolina to buy their fireworks because that's where they can get lift charges -- the kind of fireworks that explode, spin, fly and jump at professional shows.

Lift charges are available to the general public in South Carolina, but North Carolina requires a license to use them.

"Why South Carolina allows that, I'll never know," Pridgen said.

Pridgen had to take several classes and exams before being licensed by the state Fire Marshal's office to shoot lift charges in North Carolina -- and with good reason, he said.

"The fuses travel at 750 feet per second," he said. "If you light one and it's not seated in the proper tube, that's how you lose fingers and hands."

Goodwin said shooting illegal fireworks, like those with lift charges, without a license can have some serious consequences in certain parts of the state, including fines and misdemeanors.

But it's not just the illegal ones that are dangerous, Pridgen said. Even the simple stuff, like sparklers, can be deadly.

"They are probably the most dangerous things a parent can buy," Pridgen said. "They can burn between 1,200 and 1,600 degrees. If a child touches that, it'll burn right through the skin."

The safest fireworks, Pridgen said, are those with long fuses that people can get away from, such as firecrackers and bottle rockets.

Goodwin said the best and safest way to enjoy fireworks this holiday is to watch the professionals.