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Safe and sane use of fireworks stressed on Fourth of July

FIRE IN THE SKY:

July 02, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

Brilliantly colored showers of light will brighten the darkened skies above this great nation on Wednesday as communities the country over gather to celebrate the birth of our United States of America.

While big-money fireworks shows go off overhead, celebrants also will likely take part in more intimate pyrotechnical pursuits with handheld sparklers and whirling flashes of fiery color bought at fireworks stands and shops.

The Imperial Valley will be no different. As is always the case this time of year, fireworks booths dot county roads and some city streets for the occasion, selling their incendiary wares for all to enjoy.

However, as is also the case this time of year, kids or adults somewhere will get burned and fire somewhere will erupt.

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Promoting the safe use of fireworks is a main concern of Calipatria Public Works Director Trey Faubion, a trained pyrotechnician who moonlights for San Diego Fireworks and is a former Calipatria firefighter.

Faubion, also Calipatria Chamber of Commerce board president, will lead his city's fireworks show at Cliff Hatfield Memorial Airport, setting off the night's first blast at 9:15 p.m., soundtracked by Calipatria's KSSB 100.9 FM.

Said Faubion of the importance of safety when handling fireworks: "There's two reasons: One, you don't want to injure yourself or someone around you, and secondly, you don't want to lose anything to fire."

As a firefighter, Faubion saw his fair share of minor burns and brush blazes sparked by … well, sparks gone astray.

"I haven't seen structural damage, but I've seen carelessness cause brush fires and I've treated children who have been burned on the hands and legs," he said, adding while the burns were minor, "all burns hurt."

"That's probably one of the worst things to go through in the treatment process," Faubion said.

With most injuries occurring from the mishandling of fireworks — setting fireworks off while in hand instead of lighting them and stepping back — Faubion said there are a couple important points to remember:

"First off," he said, "only allow a responsible adult to handle the product by the directions printed on the label."

Added Faubion: "Be aware of your surroundings. … On aerial shows, we have 72 feet of clearance per 1-inch diameter of shell for fallout."

The fireworks sold locally are as safe as fireworks can be, Faubion said. Labeled "Safe and Sane," the local fireworks are approved by the state fire marshal, which is extremely important, he said.

"If it doesn't have a state fire marshal seal on it, it's not legal. If a person tears the label off something they bought in town, it's no longer legal," he said.

In the event those using fireworks do get burned, Faubion advises: "First thing, stop, drop and roll and call 911, and just wait for (emergency medical workers)."

He added don't get caught up in trying to self-treat a burn.

"The home remedies usually make the tissue damage worse."

Faubion stressed he practices all that he preaches, saying, "Like I always tell my guys before we shoot, be safe and have a good time."

For more information on fireworks safety, got to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Office of the State Fire Marshal, Web site at www.fireworks-safety.com

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