By Adam Smith
The North Jefferson News
With Independence Day occurring next week, some north Jefferson County residents may be wondering where to get their fireworks fix.
Earlier this month, a state-wide ban on fireworks was passed by Gov. Bob Riley and the Alabama Foresty Commission. The ban said that fireworks could only be used over bodies of water.
That ban was partially lifted last week after an amendment to the ban was passed that said fireworks could be used on land. However, rocket-type fireworks are still banned.
Some state municipalities have passed resolutions against the sale and usage of fireworks in accordance with the state ban.
Gardendale, on the other hand, has always had a fireworks ban in place.
“We will be enforcing the law more this year if we start to have problems,” said Gardendale Mayor Kenny Clemons. “Normally our enforcement is to tell the kids to stop shooting them or talk to the parents.”
A sign in front of a fireworks business on Decatur Highway declared that the fireworks ban had been lifted, but Clemons said the ban refers to the state ban, not the city’s.
For the past several years, Gardendale First Baptist Church has held a show on the Fourth. However, the show was cancelled this year.
De Allen, Associate Pastor of Administration for the church, said the decision to not have the show was made before the drought.
“We wanted to go in a different direction,” he said. “We re-evaluate our programs each year and we’re doing a lot more in the schools and different aspects of the community.”
Allen said it costs about $17,000 to put on the show each year. He said the fireworks alone cost about $13,000.
Fultondale recently passed a resolution banning the usage and sales of all fireworks in the city limits.
Mayor Jim Lowery said the drought was the motivating factor behind the permanent ordinance. He said another factor was the number of complaints from residents concerning the nuisance the fireworks cause in neighborhoods.
However, the ordinance does make some exceptions for shows inside the city put on by licensed, bonded professionals.
He said residents who want to see fireworks on the Fourth should take advantage of the “Thunder on the Mountain” show held annually on Red Mountain in Birmingham, to be held at 9 p.m.
“A lot of our citizens have gone to that before now,” he said. “There are opportunities to celebrate the Fourth with those activities.”
The “Thunder on the Mountain” fireworks show will be put on this year by Pyro Productions Inc. Debbie New, owner of Pryo Productions, said her company will put on about 80 shows on the Fourth, including one at the Birmingham Barons baseball game and one at the Verizon Wireless Center at the Kid Rock concert.
She said her company’s shows are “highly governed by state, federal and local authorities.” She said the company was working with Jefferson County and Birmingham agencies to ensure a safe show.
“We’re already anticipating the possibility of a fire,” she said. “What goes up, must come down. ... We have a meticulous safety plan in place.”
Part of that safety plan includes having a fire engine or a pumper truck at every show.
She said this year’s show will be the “biggest, most outstanding show to be shot from Red Mountain.”
A soundtrack for the show will be broadcast on Citadel Broadcasting stations 94.5, 99.5 and 100.5. The show will also be shown live on Fox 6 news at 9 p.m.
Both the towns of Warrior and Kimberly have also banned fireworks for the Fourth.
Kimberly Mayor Sammy Maze said there’s too much potential for fire danger. The council discussed the ban at the last council meeting. “It’s just too serious at this point,” he said, referring to the drought.
Warrior Mayor Rena Hudson said her town would comply with the state restrictions, but the police department will enforce the ban on rocket-type fireworks.
Morris Police Chief Brian Cochran said this week that Morris does not have an official ban on fireworks, but the city would comply with the state restrictions.
For more information on “Thunder on the Mountain,” visit www.visitvulcan.com/
By Adam Smith