Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

5 Questions with a fire inspector about Fourth of July fireworks

What comes to mind when you think of FOURTH of July fireworks?

Schlepping lawn chairs and bug spray and coolers to the beach or the park to watch the beautiful bursts in the sky? Or sticking them in the ground in the back yard, lighting the fuses and running away as fast as you can? (Not a good idea, by the way.) • You might never think of the dangers involved but, thankfully, there are safety experts who do. • We asked this month's 5 Questions of Artie Taylor, Hillsborough County fire inspector, who has spent decades making sure everyone is safe during pyrotechnic events — including the granddaddy of them all, the Fourth of July. Patti Ewald, Times staff writer

1 What has been your most memorable Fourth of July fireworks show and why?

The show at Coachman Park in Clearwater in 2008. Bell's Fireworks put on a seminar in which they shot off the biggest, baddest fireworks during a daytime preshoot. I always knew about setbacks (the audience has to be 70 feet away for every inch of mortar diameter) but when I saw the debris fall during daylight hours, when you could really see it fall, I realized how important it is.

2 How much does a Fourth of July fireworks show cost and who pays for it?

The shows cost tens of thousands of dollars and are usually paid for with donations or by sponsors. Municipalities used to pay for them but they just don't have the money anymore.

3 You must have a lot of great stories. Please tell us one.

This one is about Christmas, not Fourth of July. About six years ago, the Idlewild (Baptist Church in Lutz) was doing an indoor Christmas show with pyrotechnics. The stage was set up with biblical caves the kids had made out of untreated fabric. A lot of stuff had to come down. I felt bad about making them do it and the kids were unhappy but later they all thanked me.

Fire codes are constantly being rewritten after historical fire deaths. A lot of codes for indoor pyrotechnics were changed after 100 people died at the Great White show in 2003 in Rhode Island.

That's what intrigues me about the job, it's always changing.

4 How have you seen fireworks change over the years?

There are more available. They are in abundance and there are more injuries. In the U.S. in 2010, according to the National Fire Prevention Association, eight people died, 8,600 went to the emergency room and there were 15,000 fires resulting in $36 million in property loss, all because of fireworks.

5 If you could tell people one thing about backyard fireworks, what would it be?

Save your money and go to public shoots. They are permitted and insured.

And, to see the big fireworks, you have to go to the big shows.

5 Questions with a fire inspector about Fourth of July fireworks 06/26/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A historic Tampa family saves a historic Tampa home built by an ancestor

    Human Interest

    The Knight family has replaced their roof and people are celebrating.

    The Peter O. Knight historical cottage, located in Tampa's Hyde Park neighborhood, is seen Thursday, July 20, 2017. The cottage fell into disrepair in recent years, but the Knight family stepped up with financial support to help stabilize the structure.
  2. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  3. In Twitter rant, Bucs' Gerald McCoy says he's unappreciated

    Bucs

    Gerald McCoy is feeling underappreciated again. He says somebody has crossed the line this time. He's speaking out and suggesting he might be gone "soon enough" from Tampa Bay.

    Photo Illustration RON BORRESEN   |   Photo by LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 
Gerald McCoy may be upset that Ronde Barber said a defensive leader “has to have a huge personality’’ like Warren Sapp’s. Monday, Barber walked that back.
  4. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  5. Photo gallery: Nine years later, library attack victim Queena works at learning to walk again

    Blogs

    Slowly, Queena Phu is learning the act of walking again through exercises in locomotion, strength and balance.
    She practiced her steps once again Monday afternoon with trainer-technician Mike Lopez at the nonprofit Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center near the University of South Florida.
    Queena …

    Activity based exercise trainer George Palang, 33, and trainer technician Mike Lopez, 22, help Queena Phu during physical therapy at the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center on Monday, July 24, 2017, in Tampa, Fla.