Georgians can legally buy fireworks starting July 1 - but what will that look like in metro Atlanta?
Ready for DIY Fireworks!
Fireworks stores in neighboring states that for decades have sold Roman candles, sky rockets, and flying spinners to Georgians might say goodbye to those familiar faces starting next month. On July 1, three days before Americans blow stuff up to celebrate July 4, a new law that legalizes the sale and distribution of consumer fireworks in Georgia will take effect.
Before, Georgians could only purchase sparklers and fireworks that were not airborne, which means the fireworks could not shoot higher than 12 feet in the air. But starting July 1, people will now be able to legally purchase “stuff that flies in the air and explodes, including Roman Candles,” says Cobb County Fire Marshal Jay Westbrook.
Businesses that want to partake in this new industry — and according to the Macon Telegraph, some well-known fireworks shops do — will have to acquire a state-issued license, says Westbrook. And customers who want to purchase the colorful explosives would have to pay a 5 percent excise tax on each item.
But how does this new law play out in metro Atlanta? How are violations enforced? How will cities and counties decide where fireworks stores should be allowed, if they even can?
Though the language in the legislation is fairly clear, local governments are still sorting out the law's finer points. Earlier this month, the Sandy Springs City Council approved a 90-day moratorium on accepting applications, zoning applications, and other requests from businesses that want to sell consumer fireworks. Janet Ward, community affairs director of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, says city officials will know more today after a daylong meeting about the new law at the Cobb County Safety Village.
Westbrook says fire departments from multiple jurisdictions, including Atlanta, and other officials related to zoning, business licenses, and code enforcement will gather to interpret the new law and determine how to best enforce it. He says the class is to ensure all departments and organizations are on the same page.
The city has no intention of introducing new legislation or ordinances related to the fireworks law, says Christina Cruz-Benton, a spokeswoman for Mayor Kasim Reed. Cruz-Benton says the AFR is preparing for July 4 as usual by increasing fire personnel to handle an influx of calls. The city's Joint Operation System will also be available for added support. Cruz-Benton also notes even with the change in law, Interim Fire Chief Joel Baker would like all residents to continue to use common sense and be safe when dealing fireworks.