Fireworks: What's Safe and Sane?

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On several occasions, Idaho lawmakers have proposed separate measures to curb illegal fireworks from being sold in the Gem State, but in each instance, the bills died in committee.

Illegal fireworks are defined as pyrotechnics that emit sparks or showers more than 20 feet vertically. That means no bottle rockets and no aerial displays. Firecrackers are also illegal. Idaho allows the illegal fireworks to be sold, but customers must sign an affidavit promising to transport the explosives out of state. Illegal fireworks are sold year-round at a giant warehouse-type structure south of Boise. Additionally, Fat City Fireworks supplies illegal fireworks to a few select stands, which pop up around the holidays, in Star and in Canyon County.

Boise Fire Chief Dennis Dona told BW in July 2011 that he has seen the worst from fireworks.

"I've seen people lose fingers or even their hands to illegal fireworks. Unfortunately, there's something every year," said Doan. "The Fourth of July is really a double-edge sword. You see, I love fireworks. It's an American rite of passage, but we have to be safe. The stands selling fireworks all around Boise have been inspected, and we count on them to sell the safe and sane items."

But Rick Lowther, the founder and owner of Fat City Fireworks, is quick to defend illegal fireworks and he isn't the biggest fan of safe and sane explosives.

"Safe and sane is not so safe or sane. In fact, they have it backwards," he said. "The stuff that goes up in the air, boom, it's gone. But this stuff," Lowther said, pointing to rows of safe and sane products, "this stuff stays dangerously close to the ground, and the grass or a bush could catch on fire in a heartbeat. But politicians don't understand that, and they keep wanting to restrict the illegal fireworks."

Lowther also said that Idaho legislators have unsuccessfully tried to eliminate illegal fireworks from being sold in the Gem State.

"But that's crazy," said Lowther. "Our sales are solid and we collect a lot of sales tax here. And that's good for Idaho. The state is broke and, let's face it, we need less government and more business."

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