Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Radical opinion

Boycott Chinese fireworks

Posted: August 6, 2001
1:00 a.m. Eastern

WASHINGTON — Ten-year-old Zhang Yanhong knew that if she refused her teacher's orders, she could be forced to pay a fine or kneel on the classroom floor for hours. So the girl obeyed her teacher – and paid with her life.

What were the teacher's orders? To manufacture fireworks – fireworks that exploded, killing 42 people, most of them 3rd- and 4th-graders.

Last month I announced my campaign to boycott Chinese fireworks for celebrations next July 4.

Since then, I've learned the idea is better and more needed than ever.

It turns out Chinese fireworks made by forced child labor have come under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, according to Carl Olson, chairman of State Department Watch, a foreign policy watchdog group based in Washington.

The massive use of Chinese schoolchildren in the manufacturing of fireworks destined for the United States and, ironically, patriotic celebrations of freedom and justice, came to light following the explosion that killed 42 at the elementary school in Jiangxi province.

The children were tasked with daily producing 1,000 firecrackers each and the money from the business went to school officials.

The government blamed the horror on a lone madman. But relatives of the children complained for three years about school officials forcing their children to assemble fireworks during and after school.

State Department Watch brought the incident to the attention of the Labor Department.

Purchases by the federal government of goods made by forced child labor were banned earlier this year. The Department of Labor is responsible for identifying offending countries and products. To date the list includes only 11 products from two countries – Burma and Pakistan.

"This terrible abuse of schoolchildren cannot be permitted to continue," said Olson. "The federal government and the rest of the nation must refuse to support such forced labor."

Widespread use of schools for forced labor in China was described in the New China News Agency last year. According to a Los Angeles Times report from last March, 91 percent, or about 620,000, of China's secondary schools have some business run by the government officials, yielding $15 billion – nearly equal to the central government's entire education budget.

What does all this have to do with July 4 and fireworks in the United States?

Every year – at least in areas where selling fireworks is still legal – groups like churches, service clubs, schools, etc. raise money by selling fireworks to the public.

In 2001 for instance, fireworks sales totaled an estimated $650 million, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

So what's wrong with selling fireworks? Am I worried about accidents?

Actually, no. In fact, while sales of fireworks are way up, fireworks-related injuries are way down – falling over 86 percent in the last 24 years.

No, my concern about all the fireworks sales in America is centered around where those pyrotechnic devices are manufactured – in China.

How can this nation celebrate its independence every year by supporting the evil empire in Beijing?

Every single fireworks package I see – at least those available to ordinary consumers – is marked "made in China." While there may be alternatives, I have never seen any.

So I want to set off some rhetorical fireworks here while we still have time to prepare for July 4, 2002. Let's boycott Chinese fireworks. Let's say no to distributing Chinese-made fireworks in the U.S. Let's celebrate Independence Day by supporting independence and freedom throughout the world – including China.

By the way, don't count on the Labor Department to do the right thing on this fireworks issue. Let's remember who is in charge as secretary – Elaine Chao, noted for her cozy ties to the Beijing leadership.

If you want to sound off in protest of the child labor in China, Olson advises the point of contact is: Maureen Jaffe, acting director, International Child Labor Program, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-2431, Washington, DC 20210.

But I think it's time to take matters into our own hands. Don't wait for the government to act. Maybe it's not a big step – a dramatic step – but I think it's time to start reclaiming our national soul. A good first step would be for charitable organizations across America to swear off the sales of Chinese-made fireworks next summer.

Are you with me? If so, I'll keep hammering away at this theme and reminding you of the latest developments through next Independence Day.


Related offer:

"The China Threat," Bill Gertz's book about how People's Republic targets America, is available in WorldNetDaily's online store.


Joseph Farah is founder, editor and CEO of WND and a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. His latest book is "Taking America Back." He also edits the weekly online intelligence newsletter Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, in which he utilizes his sources developed over 30 years in the news business.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fireworks performance celebrates PRC 57th birthday

People watch the fireworks in Shanghai on Sept. 30, 2006 the eve of China's National Day to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

People watch the fireworks in Shanghai on Sept. 30, 2006 the eve of China's National Day to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The fireworks in Hong Kong on Oct.1, 2006 which is the 57th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China attract hundreds of thousands of HK citizens.

The fireworks in Hong Kong on Oct.1, 2006 which is the 57th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China attract hundreds of thousands of HK citizens.

Monday, September 18, 2006

China Fireworks bring joy, sorrow to Sping Festival

BEIJING, Feb. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- The return of fireworks to traditional Lunar New Year celebrations brought much joy to revelers, but also sorrow to some parts of the nation.

In Beijing, where a 12-year ban on fireworks had just been lifted, explosions injured 112 people, said the State Administration of Work Safety, quoted by Wednesday's China Daily.

Seventeen people suffered serious eye injuries, and another 26 were admitted to hospital with various types of wounds.

According to the Beijing News Daily, the city's environmental protection bureau collected 458 tons of waste fireworks on Jan. 29, the first day of the Lunar New Year.

In Chongqing Municipality, southwest China, firefighters rushedto extinguish 191 fires caused by fireworks on the Lunar New Year's Eve.

About 3,000 firefighters gave up the chance to spend the holiday with their families to remain on duty.

Experts said the lifting of the ban would help preserve traditional Chinese culture. But others said the return of fireworks would lead to more serious pollution, fires, injuries and deaths.

On Sunday, an explosion in Linzhou, a city in Henan Province, central China, killed 36 people and injured 48 others.

The explosion occurred when firecrackers in a storehouse were accidentally ignited, the State Administration of Work Safety saidin a statement.

Although there were disagreements, the governments in more than100 Chinese cities lifted the ban on fireworks last year.

Beijing also lifted the ban after a survey found that 70 percent of residents felt fireworks made the holiday period more festive.

The new rules allow Beijing residents to explore fireworks all day and all night on Jan. 28, and from 7 a.m. to midnight every day from Jan. 29 to Feb. 12.

With the aim of ensuring safety, about 3,000 police and community officers have been sent to patrol off-limits areas such as schools, retirement homes and sites of historic relics.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

confetti is going to replace fireworks?

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Ultimate Rockets

It's a pyrotechnist's dream come true: 55,000 rockets blasting off at the same time. University of Plymouth's Roy Lowry chats about his attempt to break the simultaneous-rocket-firing world record. Wired News interview by Nigel Watson.

In mid-August, a U.K. chemistry professor attempted a Guinness World Record by launching 55,000 fireworks at the same time.

Roy Lowry of the University of Plymouth is waiting for official confirmation of his record, but before he lit the fuses, he told Wired News about the preparations.

Wired News: What type of rockets are you using?

Roy Lowry: Our rockets are quite small -- they are 7 inches long. They are standard rockets that you can buy in the shops; they are not special. We will be putting them into 15 specially built 4-feet-square wooden frames.

These frames have a mesh wire on the top and in the middle. The middle wire grid holds the stick of the rocket and the top grid holds the base of the rocket. The top grid is laced with something called "black match," which is basically gunpowder in a tube. This is an old-fashioned method of igniting the rockets.

We plan to get 4,000 rockets into each frame. There will be an electrical igniter for each frame and they will all be wired to a black box with the red firing button. On (Aug. 16), a team from Fantastic Fireworks and lads from the local Air Training Corps will put the fireworks in the frames. These will be counted by volunteers from Plymouth University and five bank tellers. There will be two witnesses to make sure that the rockets are counted properly, and they will decide if any re-counting is required.

WN: Do you foresee any particular problems?

Lowry: We do have several headaches. One problem is the weather: The slightest damp turns (the rockets) into duds. We are particularly vulnerable to the weather when we start stacking the rockets into their frames on the morning of the event. We have tarpaulins to cover them but this then makes it difficult for us to count the rockets.

Technically, this is not a difficult procedure, but we are dealing with rockets that amount to about a quarter ton of gunpowder all being set off at once. Since the rockets will be packed so close together -- roughly two rockets per square inch -- there is bound to be midair collisions. I'll be launching them wearing a visor and hard hat for safety reasons. There will only be me and a video camera within the 100-meter exclusion zone.

Afterwards, any rockets that do not launch will be deducted from the number we put in the frames. I figure we should launch at least 55,000. To find out if we get the record we have to submit a package of evidence, and it will take six weeks to find out if you have broken the record or not.

WN: What made you try this record attempt in particular?

Lowry: I was in a hot office marking coursework when Plymouth City Council asked me to come to a meeting to discuss this and it was a great draw.... When they asked me for ideas, I suggested going for an established record. This record had stood for eight years and was ready for knocking.

WN: Was this difficult to organize?

Lowry: The current record holder, Terry McDonald, launched 39,210 rockets in 1997 at the Battle of Flowers Moonlight Parade in the Channel Islands. I rang him up and he gave me plenty of helpful advice. He said he had planned to launch 40,000 rockets but 790 failed to ignite.

Within days of deciding to go ahead with this project, Black Cat Fireworks offered to provide the rockets. The Guinness World Records rules say that they must be individual rockets that are designed to reach an altitude of 30 meters (100 feet), and they all must take off within a five-second window. So we were given a lorry load of rockets, which amounts to about 60,000 rockets.

Another company, Fantastic Fireworks, provided the frames and fusing, and Plymouth City Council have helped organize things and fund us. The Event Services Association TESA have also worked on the risk-assessment, logistics, crowd control, health and safety issues.

Tighter controls loom for public sale of fireworks

Tighter controls loom for public sale of fireworks

Auckland City's Economic Development and Sustainable Business Committee has agreed to support work being carried out by central government to address public concerns about the sale and use of fireworks.

Led by the Ministry for the Environment with the Environmental Risk Management Authority and Auckland police and fire services, a paper recommending a range of fireworks regulations and measures will be presented to the Cabinet calling for tighter controls.

Councillor Richard Northey, committee chairperson says the council supports this central government work programme and will notify the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Auckland Issues accordingly.

"Harmful incidents from fireworks are escalating annually. The central government's work programme is all about reducing these occurrences and protecting public safety.

"We believe that appropriate changes to fireworks regulations should reduce the amount of damage to people, property and pets stemming from the deliberate misuse of fireworks that occurs every Guy Fawkes season," Mr Northey said. In response to calls of concern from community boards, police, the fire service, SPCA and other groups over the irresponsible use of fireworks, the council has agreed to another temporary ban in public space along Tamaki Drive for Guy Fawkes from 3 - 5 November 2006.

The ban covers all beaches and parks along Tamaki Drive - Watene Reserve, Okahu Bay, Orakei Domain, Whenua Rangatira (Bastion Point), Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, Selwyn Domain, Kohimarama Beach, Vellenoweth Green, St Heliers Bay Beach, Ladies Bay and Achilles Point.

"We don't want to stop people having fun and celebrating Guy Fawkes but we do have a responsibility to minimise the rise of injuries and the impact on animals," says Mr Northey.

The ban does not apply to fireworks on private property.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Chemistry of Firework Colors

Chemistry of Firework Colors

A Marriage of Art and Science

Creating firework colors is a complex endeavor, requiring considerable art and application of physical science. Excluding propellants or special effects, the points of light ejected from fireworks, termed 'stars', generally require an oxygen-producer, fuel, binder (to keep everything where it needs to be), and color producer. There are two main mechanisms of color production in fireworks, incandescence and luminescence.


Incandescence is light produced from heat. Heat causes a substance to become hot and glow, initially emitting infrared, then red, orange, yellow, and white light as it becomes increasingly hotter. When the temperature of a firework is controlled, the glow of components, such as charcoal, can be manipulated to be the desired color (temperature) at the proper time. Metals, such as aluminum, magnesium, and titanium, burn very brightly and are useful for increasing the temperature of the firework.


Luminescence is light produced using energy sources other than heat. Sometimes luminescence is called 'cold light', because it can occur at room temperature and cooler temperatures. To produce luminescence, energy is absorbed by an electron of an atom or molecule, causing it to become excited, but unstable. When the electron returns to a lower energy state the energy is released in the form of a photon (light). The energy of the photon determines its wavelength or color.

Sometimes the salts needed to produce the desired color are unstable. Barium chloride (green) is unstable at room temperatures, so barium must be combined with a more stable compound (e.g., chlorinated rubber). In this case, the chlorine is released in the heat of the burning of the pyrotechnic composition, to then form barium chloride and produce the green color. Copper chloride (blue), on the other hand, is unstable at high temperatures, so the firework cannot get too hot, yet must be bright enough to be seen.


Pure colors require pure ingredients. Even trace amounts of sodium impurities (yellow-orange) are sufficient to overpower or alter other colors. Careful formulation is required so that too much smoke or residue doesn't mask the color. With fireworks, as with other things, cost often relates to quality. Skill of the manufacturer and date the firework was produced greatly affect the final display (or lack thereof).

Color Compound
Red strontium salts, lithium salts
lithium carbonate, Li2CO3 = red
strontium carbonate, SrCO3 = bright red
Orange calcium salts
calcium chloride, CaCl2
calcium sulfate, CaSO4·xH2O, where x = 0,2,3,5
Gold incandescence of iron (with carbon), charcoal, or lampblack
Yellow sodium compounds
sodium nitrate, NaNO3
cryolite, Na3AlF6
Electric White white-hot metal, such as magnesium or aluminum
barium oxide, BaO
Green barium compounds + chlorine producer
barium chloride, BaCl+ = bright green
Blue copper compounds + chlorine producer
copper acetoarsenite (Paris Green), Cu3As2O3Cu(C2H3O2)2 = blue
copper (I) chloride, CuCl = turquoise blue
Purple mixture of strontium (red) and copper (blue) compounds
Silver burning aluminum, titanium, or magnesium powder or flakes

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

China Fireworks

It is a tradition in China to welcome the New Year with fireworks. At midnight, the sky is lit up by fireworks, which symbolize the sending out of the old and the ushering in the new.

Firecrackers are set off as soon as the New Year arrives. You can hear or see firecrackers everywhere and this usually lasts for a few hours. Some people continue to play firecrackers occasionally throughout the first half of the first month. Traditionally fireworks are the sign of getting rid of the old and welcoming the new. However, fireworks are now banned in China, so this tradition is history.

Chinese fireworks are special and they are produced on a commercial scale. Chinese firecrackers are exported to all parts of the world. The firecrackers called stars are contained in nearly every firework and burn in the sky to produce the effect. These stars are rolled in special drums or pressed into small cylinders. Stars in a shell are usually considered the most impressive firework in a display. They produce big bursts of color in the sky. Shells are made in 2 halves and then closed together. A finished 300mm shell will fire about 300 meters into the sky and burst before burning for more than 20 seconds.

China's fireworks industry suffers hundreds of deaths every year in fires and explosions. The industry employs thousands of people, often in poor rural areas, who do much of the work by hand. The death rate keeps soaring despite repeated government promises to tighten safety. The fatality rate usually surges as producers rush to fill orders for the Lunar New Year, which comes in January. Chinese celebrate by setting off billions of firecrackers.

The government has said that it would close fireworks factories that lack modern equipment and ban production in homes, but it is not clear how effectively those restrictions can be enforced.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Fireworks industry gets banged up

pyrotechnics operators like Jim Souza, the job has always been a balance of work and fun, preparation and payoff.

But in recent years, what had been a cool way of helping communities celebrate has turned taxing and burdensome. Industry leaders say this has been the most challenging Fourth of July season in memory.

One of the most pressing concerns has been the lack of shipping carriers transporting fireworks from overseas manufacturers. All but one has halted shipments of large fireworks following a recent fire and explosion aboard a liner carrying a shipment of fireworks.

In addition, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, have weighed heavily on the industry, whose explosives have received the same level of scrutiny applied to other industries dealing with dangerous materials. Insurance premiums have also jumped sharply because of safety concerns.

Despite the recent travails, this year’s fireworks shows are expected to go off without a hitch. But pyrotechnicians are worried about future shows.

“ We’re here to light up the sky and make everyone happy to celebrate the Fourth of July, but it’s just a tough time for us, ” said Souza, owner of Pyro Spectaculars and a fifth-generation pyrotechnician. “ It’s become a lot more expensive and difficult to put (the shows ) on. ”

For one thing, his company and others were having a hard time getting their hands on fireworks, most of which are manufactured in China. The flow of supplies slowed after a March 21 explosion aboard the Hyundai Fortune, a container ship that was traveling through the Indian Ocean from Asia to Europe. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but the presence of fireworks led Hyundai and five other shipping companies to place a moratorium on the transport of large fireworks.

Only one company, Maersk, is shipping public-display fireworks explosives. The sudden turn of events caused a great amount of consternation among display operators, who were forced to reroute shipments and pray for their arrival in time.

Some bought supplies from bigger rivals with large inventories while others, like John Weiter, the owner of Gateway Fireworks Displays in St. Louis, waited it out. Weiter said his shipment arrived a couple of weeks ago. Normally it would have arrived by April.

Bengt Henriksen, a president of Quality Logistics, a San Carlos fireworks importer, said there was no evidence the Hyundai explosion was caused by fireworks. He said an investigation he commissioned found the fire began below deck, while the fireworks were stored on the top of the ship.

He said the moratorium has been a huge imposition. Even after rerouting the shipments on Maersk ships, fireworks operators have run into regulations that limit the amount of fireworks that can be transported on a ship.

“ There are probably 500 containers of fireworks stranded in China that are not coming in for July 4 because of this, ” said Henriksen, who handles shipments for a majority of the fireworks operators in the United States.

“ This is a long-term problem, ” said Julie Heckman, executive director of the Pyrotechnics Association of America. “ We got through this Fourth of July, but we might not get through the next if we don’t figure out how to get the product here. ”

How it works

Robert Noyce, Deseret Morning News The control box ignites the lift charge, which propels the shell 500-600 feet into the air.


Robert Noyce, Deseret Morning News Steel tubes — or mortars — are used to launch fireworks. The tubes are the same diameter as the shell and three times as long. The firework must fit snugly to enable gases to build up and launch the shell.
Mortars are usually lined up in racks filled with sand. Tubes are buried three quarters of their length into the sand.
Fireworks are fired electronically. Complex displays require fuses be hooked to a computer, which fires shells in sequence.

Display shells ---fireworks


Robert Noyce, Deseret Morning News Contrary to popular belief, fireworks are not rockets but shells that are propelled with black powder from steel tubes (mortars).
Round shells contain a single display, such as a chrysanthemum, waterfall or ring pattern.
Cylindrical shells (multibreak) contain multiple displays that can produce more random pattern and colors. Some shells can have up to 16 effects.
Screeching and whistling noises are produced by a substance that oscillates as it burns.
Multibreak fireworks contain several cardboard compartments. Bursting charges in each compartment ignite and propel stars through the air.
The more resistant the cardboard compartment is to the explosion, the larger the display.
Explosive sounds are created by placing a sound charge in the shell. This is achieved by adding a mixture of perchlorate to the shell.
Patterns are determined by how stars are positioned in the shell.

Black powder & Stars of fireworks

Black powder

The main component of fireworks is black powder, which is composed of 75 percent saltpeter (potassium nitrate), 15 percent charcoal and 10 percent sulfur.


Stars are jawbreaker-size lumps of compressed black powder. They produce flashes of color when combined with other chemicals and ignited.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Fireworks: How they work and where they came from---2

2002 Winter Olympics fireworks display.
Fireworks must be handmade because of the possibility of sparks from machinery. Individuals have to wear all-cotton clothing to prevent sparks from static electricity.

220 million pounds of fireworks were used in the United States in 2003.

The Boston July 4 fireworks display, one of the largest in the country, uses 3.5 tons of fireworks and employs 5,700 mortars to fire them.

The average length of a fireworks display 30 years ago was an hour compared to the current time of 20 minutes.

The Chinese word for fireworks is "yan hua" or "fiery flower."

The display for the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in 1984 used 40,000 shells on five barges.

· · · · ·

kitchen god

The Chinese believed a kitchen god made annual reports to heaven on a family's behavior. Punishments included a shortened life. Firecrackers were set off to honor the god.

Fireworks: How they work and where they came from---1

The ancient Chinese believed that fireworks' loud bang could scare off evil spirits and ghosts, and eventually, their use was incorporated into all types of celebrations, including births and deaths. European kings valued fireworks so much they appointed "Fire Masters" to provide elaborate shows. England's James II was so pleased with his that he knighted him. Today we celebrate a number of holidays and special events with fireworks. It's ironic, however, that the objects that provide so much visual pleasure also provide the nucleus for one of man's most destructive inventions: gunpowder.

The Chinese believed a kitchen god made annual reports to heaven on a family's behavior. Punishments included a shortened life. Firecrackers were set off to honor the god. History Most historians agree the origins of gunpowder can be traced to ancient China, although some evidence shows the Greeks and the east Indians may have also had some form of black powder by the 8th century. Stories attribute gunpowder's discovery to either a Chinese cook accidentally mixing common kitchen items or an alchemist working to find the elixir of life. By the 10th century, a Chinese monk from the Hunan Province named Li Tian discovered that packing the powder into a paper tube would produce a loud bang. His invention is remembered annually with a celebration on April 18. The province is still a major production center. Firecrackers and fireworks soon gained popularity in religious ceremonies and as a way to celebrate a number of occasions. By the 13th century, Marco Polo and, by some accounts, the Crusaders brought fireworks and black powder to Europe. As the fascination with fireworks grew, so did the development of cannons and guns. The English scientist Roger Bacon (1214-1292), published a formula for producing fireworks or "thunder and lightning." Many European courts were known for their elaborate fireworks displays, including Elizabeth I and James II, who had their own "Fire Masters." Various European families emerged as leaders in such displays. The Grucci, Rozzi and Zambelli families continue the tradition to this day. Fireworks remained relatively unchanged until the 19th century, when chemicals were added for color. There have also been recent improvements in color and visual effects.

National Night Out celebration to include parade, fireworks

Festivities will begin with a parade and end with a fireworks display.
NEW MIDDLETOWN — Officials have set the village's annual National Night Out celebration for Aug. 1.
The event has grown each year and an estimated 1,200 hot dogs were served at last year's festivities. Village officials are planning to provide more grills this time to avoid last year's long lines.
The celebration is designed to heighten awareness of crime prevention, generate support for local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and the police-community partnership and let criminals know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Police Sgt. Ken Goist, New Middletown's police community coordinator, said residents are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police Aug. 1.
Goist said the evening will start with lineup at 5:45 p.m. at Springfield High School for a parade that starts at 6:30 and proceeds to St. Paul the Apostle Church on state Route 170.
Afterward, a cookout and other activities will take place at the municipal building and adjacent Welker Park.
Some of the planned activities include a rappelling demonstration by the Youngstown Fire Department on the village water tower, a Life Flight exhibit, a raffle and music.
At 9:15 p.m. there will be a flashlight walk from the police department to the high school where B.J. Alan will present fireworks at 10 p.m.
Goist said National Night Out, which will be celebrated in more than 10,000 communities, is the nation's largest annual crime prevention event and is sponsored by National Association of Town Watch and co-sponsored locally by the New Middletown Police Department.

Car show, fireworks help promote drug/alcohol awareness

Activities for Drug and Alcohol Awareness/Safety Month in June were concluded with a free car show and fireworks. More than 100 cars participated in the show that included hot rods, antiques, classics, street machines, low riders, Corvettes, muscle cars and PT Cruisers. The car that came the farthest was from Wellsboro. The drivers passed the King’s crown for a collection that was given to Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Service. From left are Capt. Bill Berlew, Wyoming Valley Cruising Cruisers, co-chairman of Car Show Participants; Carmen F. Ambrosino, CEO Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services; Vince Aquilina, Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services; Daniel J. Beky, detective, Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office; Jim Yurick, National Award Winning PT Cruiser owner, Oneida; Tim “KING” Nulton, WVCC & State Director Chrysler’s PT Owners Club, co-chairman of Cars Show Participants

Fireworks tradition vs. law-enforcement insanity

When is the city of Greeley going to wake up to the need of opening areas around town where residents can go to enjoy setting off fireworks on our national holiday?Independence Day came and again we in Greeley were bombarded with news items on the airwaves regarding the illegality of fireworks in our fair city. "Big fines await those scofflaws who disregard the warnings," we are told. I already knew how it was going to go down and you did, too! We'd see the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air (over our homes) from one end of town to the other the night of July 4.Why do we continue down this path of insanity (defined as doing the same thing over and over expecting different results)? Trying to stop fireworks on July 4 everywhere in any U.S. city is pretty much impossible. Keeping families from enjoying fireworks on this holiday is almost like trying to ban gift giving on Dec. 25. Why not designate areas where it is legal?I've heard the excuses and promises from the fire marshal and police about how they'll round up the "lawbreakers" by sending out fire trucks and police cruisers to patrol the streets. Then, note this, whenever they drive through a neighborhood where fireworks discharges have been reported, they are seen coming, the activity stops and they don't catch anyone in an illegal act. They can't prove anything, of course, because they can be seen coming from blocks away. Besides, how fair is it to have such stiff fines leveled against a few you may catch while thousands of others are getting off scot-free all because they celebrate Independence Day traditionally!Most everyone of my generation who is reading this (born in the 1950s) can plainly remember, as a child, setting off fireworks as a major part of the Independence Day celebration. City ordinances banning fireworks, if they existed at all, were designed to tolerate people's desire to celebrate the tradition. Today in Greeley -- an all-American town and host of the largest Fourth of July rodeo and parade in the country -- we have a big inequity. People who prohibit themselves or their children from the use of fireworks are forced to see and listen to fireworks set off by people who don't obey the law. That always irritated me when my children were younger. I'm sure there are plenty of young families out there going through the same dilemma.I complained of this whole matter in a column for the Tribune several years ago. Nothing has changed. I have a couple of steps to take and submit them as follows:« Designate a portion of our city parks to be fireworks legal areas on July 4 each year. This will ensure that people wanting to abide by the law will be able to do so.« Send out police or firefighters in plain clothes (and plain cars) around neighborhoods to prosecute illegal firework usage.With the first suggestion in place, the number of scofflaws should be reduced and easier to spot.I am tired of the same old same old. It is past time to try something new for this problem. Please stop talking about enforcement of laws that you have no good way of enforcing.Frank Copeland was raised in small-town Kansas by a flag-loving World War II combat veteran. He and his wife are proud of their four children, two pairs of twins, and five grandchildren, all living in Greeley and Fort Collins. The Copelands are 16-year Greeley residents and glad to call it home.

Fireworks issue on city slate

A new city ordinance could limit the number of days people in Parsons can legally shoot fireworks.
Parsons city commissioners plan to discuss a new fireworks ordinance Monday that would cut the number of days for the sale and use of fireworks from eight to four, July 1 to 4 each year. The ordinance, which is requested by Fire Chief Tim Hay, also would cut the hours fireworks are allowed to be discharged from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and ban the use of fireworks in all city parks.
The city formerly allowed the use of fireworks for July 1 to 4, but commissioners changed the ordinance to allow people to begin discharging fireworks as soon as distributors could sell them. Hay said Parsons has a longer sale and discharge period than any other city around.
The proposed ordinance also would cap the amount of time fireworks dealers in the city are allowed to store fireworks and require them to show proof of sales tax registration and obtain a permit to sell fireworks.
City Commissioner Bill Wheat said he's amazed at the number of cities that don't allow fireworks to be discharged at all. He said that number is growing.
Commissioners are not expected to vote on the proposed ordinance Monday.
In other business, commissioners will have a public hearing concerning 24 structures that have been deemed dangerous. They will then later consider a resolution that will place the structures on the city's demolition list.
The commission will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the commission room at the Parsons Municipal Building.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, commissioners will consider:
- Approving a partnership with Labette County Medical Center's emergency medical services to request a Homeland Security Grant that would be used to buy a disaster response truck and equipment that would cost $423,569. The Parsons Fire Department and LCMC EMS would have to respond with the truck to disasters anywhere in Southeast Kansas and possibly anywhere in the state if requested. The fire department could use the truck every day within the city.
Commissioners were concerned Thursday about possibly being obligated to respond to disasters anywhere in the state, such as an ice storm in western Kansas. They were also concerned about the fact that there is no time frame on how long the city would be required to maintain the truck.
- Approving an extension on a purchase agreement on a vintage, wooden Frisco Railroad caboose to be placed in Marvel Park near a jogging, walking and biking trail to be built. The city will have to pay $500 for the extension to Nov. 30. That amount will be taken off of the price of the caboose. Commissioners on Thursday were having second thoughts on the caboose purchase.
- Accepting a base bid and three alternatives for a total of $392,837.70 for a resurfacing project along Main and 16th streets. The Kansas Department of Transportation will pay up to $200,000 on the project.
- Approving the sale of the city's building at 1801 S. 21st to Tank Connections, which now rents the property, for $128,000. The city bought the building for $190,000 from the former Wichita Southeast Kansas Transit when that company moved. The building is now worth $245,000, and Tank Connections has invested $36,977 in it.
- Approving payment of $146,315.81 to LaForge and Budd Construction Co. for work on the new wastewater treatment plant.
- Approving payment of $20,422.86 to TranSystems Corp. for design services for the reconstruction of a runway at Tri-City Airport. They will also consider paying TranSystems $26,615.42 for construction engineering and inspection services on the runway project.
- Accepting a bid of $128,400 from LaForge and Budd Construction Co. for lagoon cleaning at the water treatment plant.
- Approving an ordinance that would vacate an alley that was platted but never construction in the 900 block of North 16th on the west side of the road. Hai and Aurora Do have requested the alley be vacated so they can erect a new building for their restaurant, Chinese Chef.
- Approving payment to Forbes Construction in the amount of $21,122.25 for construction of a home at 1307 S. 26th.
- Approving the final plat for Hammans Subdivision, which is the property containing the Townsman Motel and storage units.
- Re-appointing Riley Cartwright to the Parsons Recreation Commission with a term to expire July 1, 2010.

Will state’s new fireworks law fizzle?

State officials have found their ears are ringing after the first Fourth of July with legalized fireworks.
After touring the state this week to tout the state’s emerging budget surplus, Gov. Mitch Daniels said Friday he was also confronted by voters who were lit up over the state’s decision to legalize
Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, a long-time critic of legalized fireworks, said he will sponsor an outright ban in the next session. He has received calls and letters from voters kept up by a barrage of neighborhood displays.
“This was the worst year, yet. It shows the stranglehold the fireworks industry has over the General Assembly,” Brown said.
Brown was able to amend language into the law that will require the Indiana Health Department to track firework-related injuries. No data has been released yet.
The governor expects the issue to come back before lawmakers when they return in January. He could back allowing local communities to set their own restrictions.
Daniels also made clear he still backs the legalization.
“The new law may need improvement, but it was improvement,” Daniels said.
The 2006 law lifted the smoke on a hazy gray market in Indiana. The old law made fireworks technically illegal, but widely available, by allowing fireworks stores to sell to customers willing to sign a form that said they were taking them out of state.
The governor’s support for the bill broke a logjam and allowed a compromise to come to a vote on the last afternoon of the session earlier this year. At the time, he touted it as a public safety bill because it included a 5 percent fee on fireworks sales, which will pay for statewide firefighter training.
Shellshocked residents, who may not have followed the bill as it snaked through the General Assembly, are questioning why the state opted to lift the loose restrictions rather than clamp down.
“Thanks to the new rules, it was bombs away, beginning as early as 9 a.m. and going until midnight. We seem to be living among pyromaniacs,” said Mark Ashmann of Griffith, who was one of 10 readers who challenged legalization in letters published Thursday in the Post-Tribune.
Jim and Gail Burnette, who live near Hebron, said Independence Day revelry got a little absurd this year, in the wake of legalization.
“Way more of those really big fireworks, the kind where you’re not sure if it’s a shotgun or a bomb or what,” Gail Burnette said. “You can say people are going to light them off one way or another, but it was never like this before.”
“We would prefer there to be some controls in place,” Jim Burnette said. “We would welcome that.”
But Christine Adamek of Wheatfield opposes any government move to circumscribe fireworks usage. The recent legalization was long overdue, she said.
“It’s fun for the kids, and people are going to do it anyway. The government has more important things to outlaw, like war.
“That’s like saying the Fourth of July is illegal. Let people be responsible for regulating themselves.”
Yet even supporters of the bill are taking notice of complaints. Taking a cue from the governor, Sen. Vic Heinold, R-Kouts, said he expects to sponsor compromise legislation that would allow communities greater authority to regulate fireworks in their area.
“I’m seeing now that maybe this is not a situation where one size fits all,” Heinold said.
He has received no complaints from rural areas, where the nearest neighbors may be more than an acre away. But in communities like Valparaiso, people have complained about the noise and potential danger.
He said he was caught off guard. During the session, he heard very little opposition to the legalization, he said.
Rep. Robert Kuzman, D-Crown Point, who voted for the bill in committee and again on the floor, also issued a release saying he supported local control.
During the session, lawmakers did have the chance to add firepower to the bill.
Senators voted down provisions that would have given communities the option of banning fireworks or further limiting hours.
They also turned down an amendment that would have made shooters liable for any damage caused by wayward bottle rockets and Roman candles.
The law did make it a crime to knowingly misuse fireworks, with the penalty rising all the way to a Class C felony if someone is killed.
The bill passed with sizable majority in both chambers. Brown said many supporters were lured mainly by wanting to create a fire academy for the first time in Indiana, rather than desire to legalize fireworks.
While supporters of legalized fireworks, including the governor, begin to hedge as the sound of exploding bottle rockets is replaced by complaints from angry neighbors, at least one dealer pointed out that someone must be happy with the change, considering business was, well, booming after the ban was lifted.
“The majority of the people I saw shopping this year were families with kids and a wife,” said George Dovellos, who opened Firework Frenzy on U.S. 30 in Hobart this year.
Dovellos said he sympathizes with people who don’t want fireworks going off while they sleep. He said they could support tougher restrictions on hours, though a ban just wouldn’t work.
“If people want to use them, you can’t put everyone in jail,” he said.
Contact Steve Walsh at 648-3120 or
Who voted to legalize fireworks
State Senate
Vic Heinold, R-Kouts
Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield
Frank Mrvan Jr., D-Hammond
Earline S. Rogers, D-Gary
Samuel Smith, D-East Chicago
Karen Tallian, D-Portage
Anita Bowser, D-Michigan City
Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake
House of Representatives
Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton
Mary K. Budak, R-LaPorte
Robert Kuzman, D-Crown Point
Don Lehe, R-Brookston
Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City
John Aguilera, D-East Chicago
Charlie Brown, D-Gary
Duane Cheney, D-Portage
Chet Dobis, D-Merrillville
Earl Harris, D-East Chicago
Linda Lawson, D-Hammond
Dan C. Stevenson, D-Highland
Vernon Smith, D-Gary
Area cities, towns react
n Schererville Town Manager Bob Volkmann said the council passed a resolution at its last council meeting asking the governor and legislators to scrap the current fireworks law and rewrite one that gives local government some control. “I don’t know if you ever want to eliminate fireworks, but there has to be some limitations,” Volkmann said. “People’s peace and enjoyment is being destroyed.”
n Crown Point Mayor Dan Klein said the city would look at its options if the law were to change, but he didn’t see much that changed since the new law went into effect. “I’m not convinced anything changed, you just don’t have to sign the sheet anymore,” he said. He said his office received a few noise complaints after the Fourth, but no more than normal.
n Tim Brown, Merrillville town manager, said, “We (town administration) probably received a half dozen or dozen complaints, some calls, some e-mail, but not that many, but I bet (Police Chief) Nick (Bravos) had a bunch of them. “We’re going to recommend changes to the statute, because the law they wrote is a 365-day law and that is where our concerns lie. It’s a little too open-ended.”
n Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski said the town received four or five calls from residents who are unhappy
with the new law. “Most of them don’t like that people can have access to fireworks so easily
and that people were shooting them off for a long period of time,” she said. “But by state law, there’s nothing we can do about it.” It was brought up at last week’s Police Commission meeting and Polakowski said she believes the topic will be broached at the next Town Council meeting.
n Hobart Code Enforcement Supervisor Carroll Lewis likes the idea of regulating fireworks use locally. “It’s better to have a strict ordinance in place for extreme cases than not having one at all,” he said. The City Council however has not discussed any fireworks legislation. He said the city has responded to at least two property damage complaints caused by M-80s or a similar explosive device.
n While Burns Harbor officials said their calls go through Porter County, Police Chief Jerry Price said from his own experience, July Fourth was “like the siege at Khe sahn when I was in Vietnam.” Price, who lives in South Haven, said the fireworks there were “the most unbelievable, intense, and relentless. They started prior to sundown and went to 2 a.m. I hope I never have to see it again.” As for the new fireworks law, Price said, “My only question is, what were they thinking?”
n Valparaiso leaders were prepared to write a resolution calling for state leaders to abolish the law. City Councilman John Bowker, who initiated the move, said the tone of that resolution now will change. “Rather than demanding an immediate cessation, we’ll probably join in on the move,” Bowker said. Bowker estimated he was contacted by close to 50 people, be it in person, on the telephone or via e-mail, complaining about fireworks.

Keep Cathedral City 'safe and sane' by maintaining fireworks ban

Keep Cathedral City 'safe and sane' by maintaining fireworks ban
The IssueCathedral City no longer allows the sale of “safe and sane” fireworks.
City leaders shouldn’t resurrect an ordinance allowing those sales to continue.
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The Desert Sun
July 16, 2006
July 16, 2006
It's time to douse the fireworks in Cathedral City.
The city's ordinance allowing "safe and sane" fireworks expired July 5, but some youth and school groups in the city want it renewed. That would allow fireworks which do not launch into the air, move on the ground or shoot flames.
City leaders should play it safe and resist resurrecting the ordinance. Fireworks injure children, cause fires and annoy neighbors. And with the flow of illegal fireworks through the community, allowing the small stuff makes the police department's job all that more difficult.
Last year, fireworks sent about 4,800 children to emergency rooms across the United States. Interestingly, "safe and sane" firecrackers and sparklers rank as the two leading fireworks that cause injuries. Granted, with common sense, injuries can be avoided, and every year many good parents make sure they are. But nearly half of all fireworks injuries occur outside of the Fourth of July holiday season. Children often get their hands on fireworks when parents aren't around.
Fireworks also are a fire hazard, and that's especially true in our desert valley. Last year fireworks caused 79 fires across Riverside County. To prevent fires from breaking out among dry leaves and grass, we place anti-spark devices on our leaf blowers and lawn mowers. So why would we light sparklers - which burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals?
Banning all fireworks also means a quieter July 5 for many city residents. There's no constant barrage of bang-pop-bang at all hours of the night from the teenagers next door or down the street.
A blanket no tolerance policy makes the police department's job of catching those who use fireworks that aren't "safe and sane" and to enforce noise ordinances easier. When all fireworks are banned, the overwhelming majority of city residents will give them up out of respect for the law. Of course, some still will insist on lighting everything from caps to M-80s. With fewer incidences of fireworks going off, however, police will be able to better locate those who insist on exploding what amounts to small bombs.
We feel for the few Cathedral City civic and school clubs who depend on fireworks sales as fundraisers. The Boys and Girls Club in Cathedral City made about $15,000 this year from fireworks sales. But we also hope they recognize the irony of selling fireworks while devoting those dollars to children's well-being.
These youth and school groups are run by smart, resourceful people, and we're confident they can come up with alternative fundraisers.

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Negaunee Fireworks To Continue

One of the highlights of Negaunee's Pioneer Days is the annual fireworks show on Teal Lake. This is the twentieth year of the celebration's pyrotechnics, which is scheduled for Saturday night.
There have been rumors that this is the final Pioneer Days with fireworks because Marty Fountain is stepping down as organizer after this year, but he is setting the record straight.
"We've got two guys that have been with the crew for about 15 years or more that will be here, so I don't see a problem at all. There's a lot of young guys out there that want to help. We'll be going for years to come," says Marty.
He also says that fundraising efforts are steady, but money is always needed since there is also a winter show.
This year's event will also have some new displays in the 20-minute show.

Use caution with fireworks

This weekend and during the next couple of days, a lot of folks are going to be lighting up - fireworks, that is.While statistically there are a small number of injuries related to fireworks, it's always better to err on the side of caution.
To help you celebrate safely this Fourth of July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety offer the following safety tips:€ Always read and follow label directions.
€ Have an adult present.€ Buy from reliable sellers.€ Use outdoors only.€ Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).€ Never experiment or make your own fireworks.€ Light only one firework at a time.€ Never re-light a "dud" firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).€ Never give fireworks to small children.€ If necessary, store fireworks in a cool, dry place.€ Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trashcan.€ Never throw or point fireworks at other people.€ Never carry fireworks in your pocket.€ Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.€ The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.€ Stay away from illegal explosives.Use common sense and caution, and enjoy a safe holiday weekend and a safe Fourth of July.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Fireworks Safety

Every year you hear the warnings, but unfortunately, people still aren't getting the message -- the dangers of fireworks.
In Washington, it took firefighters nearly nine hours to knock out flames at an abandoned school overnight.
Fireworks can be beautiful in the proper hands, but can be destructive and even deadly if not handled properly.
"The fire warped the siding of my house. It was the most horrible thing I've ever experienced in my life because I really thought it was going to burn my house. I was really scared that night," homeowner Lupe Rangel said.
Rangel saw the next-door neighbor's house on fire in the early morning hours of New Year's Day.
"The children were playing in the street, and they were popping fireworks. I think one must of gone that way," Rangel said.
It's really not that uncommon for fireworks to turn a holiday into a horrifying disaster.
"You're talking about 800 to 1,000 people every single year who is losing permanent vision from fireworks injuries," ophthalmologist Dr. Todd Shepler said.
Shepler works round the clock during holidays like Fourth of July and New Year's.
"One of the common things we see is when you have a firework, it doesn't go off. You think it's a dud. You go down to relight it and all of a sudden, it explodes," Shepler said.
Shepler says leave the major shows to the professionals. Rangel agrees and says she plans on taking action if she sees any firework activity on her street.
"They said to call 311, not 911 cause it ties up the lines. So, I'm ready to do that," Rangel said.
Shepler says another big danger is children playing with sparklers. He says while they may seem harmless, children under the age of 5 often bring them too close to the face and burn their eyes.

Backfire from fireworks law could lead to changes

INDIANAPOLIS Three Northwest Indiana legislators who voted this year to legalize fireworks now say they want to give cities and counties the power to impose tighter restrictions on backyard barrages.A fourth local lawmaker, meanwhile, says he wants to completely scrap Indiana's new fireworks law and make sparklers the only Independence Day incendiary device available to Hoosiers.
Those moves come after a July 4 holiday in which fireworks were blamed for three home fires and six injuries in Porter County.Through phone calls, complaints and letters to the editor, dozens of citizens and several local officials have accused area legislators of temporally transforming tranquil neighborhoods into veritable war zones. And the city councils of Hammond, Schererville and Valparaiso are taking measures to formally voice their displeasure with state officials, including Gov. Mitch Daniels.For two decades the state largely turned a blind eye to illegal fireworks, allowing them to be sold in Indiana, but requiring Hoosiers to sign an affidavit promising to cross state lines before igniting their purchases.Arguing they were tired of making liars out of otherwise law-abiding Hoosiers, state legislators voted in March to completely legalize fireworks, provided they are used on private property between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., with an extension until midnight for holidays.Lawmakers won support from Daniels and State Fire Marshal Roger Johnson by imposing a 5 percent "public safety" tax on fireworks that is expected to generate $1 million a year for regional firefighter training."I"m all in favor of the regional training centers, I think that's a great idea," said Valparaiso Councilman John Bowker. "(But) as I said at the City Council meeting, weren't three house fires that night (July 4) enough training?"Bowker, who is drafting a resolution asking legislators to scale back the new law, said he has heard gripes from nearly four dozen constituents. This after getting no complaints in past years.The statewide impact of the new law is not yet clear. News reports in other metropolitan areas, especially Fort Wayne, indicate similar citizen angst.Chicago police received 4,248 firework complaint calls this year, a 25 percent increase over 2005. But officials there say the ubiquity of cell phones might be more to blame than Indiana's new law. Fireworks largely are illegal in Illinois.Northwest Indiana police and fire officials, as well as those in Lansing and Crete, reported heavy call volumes this year, though no hard numbers are available.Indiana hospitals began tracking firework-related injuries last month, but state officials say those figures won't be available for several months. The same goes for firework sales, which were not specifically tracked by the state prior to last month.Fireworks caused 494 injuries in Indiana from May 2003 through December 2004, the last time the state kept track. That reporting period was pushed for by state Rep. Charlie Brown, a staunch fireworks opponent who voted against legalization this spring.Brown, a Gary Democrat, now says he will seek to repeal the new law and make sparklers the only fireworks legal for use in Indiana."I would not interfere with the tax that would provide for the firefighters' training," Brown said. "It may reduce (the revenue) tremendously, if I'm successful in getting it through."House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and some local legislators say it's unlikely there would be enough support in the 150-member General Assembly for an outright ban on fireworks.State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, and state Sen. Vic Heinold, R-Kouts, who both voted to legalize fireworks, say they will work to pass such a law next year. They're not yet sure whether the legislation would allow local governments to enact outright bans, or simply enable them to restrict the places and times of year and day in which fireworks are allowed."I think the way to do it is to allow community standards to prevail," Ayres said. "That was never requested during the legislative process. There was no input against the legislation in committee."State Rep. Bob Kuzman, D-Crown Point, issues a press release Friday saying he would support such legislation.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Fireworks: What's Legal & What's Not This Holiday

It was a dramatic morning in Indiana after an explosion and fire at a fireworks store.
At one point, fireworks were seen shooting from the building in Hammond, Indiana. Firefighters had to keep their distance while spraying water on the building, fearing more potential explosions, but no one was hurt.
The cause is under investigation.
In Central Texas, fears of big fires sparked by fireworks are prompting bans in several counties. That includes both buying and selling them.
Here's a look at what's legal and what's not.
So-called winged or finned rockets are not allowed. They shoot higher, farther and burn longer once they hit the ground.
Next, stick fireworks or bottle rockets are banned. They're known to zip through dry ground and ignite a string of fires.
However, roman candles and canister-style aerial fireworks with bases are OK.
Even with bans in place, fireworks in general could be risky this holiday.
"The reason for the ban [is that] we haven't had any rain lately," said Chief Allen Harrison with the Round Mountain Volunteer Fire Department. "They're getting kind of worried these dry conditions are going to continue."
If conditions get much worse, counties have the option of declaring an emergency ban of all fireworks.
Fireworks stands expect to open 10 days before the 4th.
Local sheriff's offices will investigate reports of violations and possibly issue citations.