Georgia’s first Independence Day with legal fireworks results in 155 complaints, one arrest in Atlanta

A lot of noise over the new freedoms.


No shortage of fireworks lit up Atlanta’s skies over the Fourth of July weekend. Thanks to a new law that went into effect on July 1, Roman candles and bottle rockets are now legal in Georgia. People were able to obtain fireworks for the first time in the state instead of driving to Tennessee or Alabama to get their pyrotechnic fix.

Between July 3 and July 5, Atlantans called in approximately 155 fireworks-related complaints to the Atlanta Police Department. According to APD Sgt. Greg Lyon, no one in the city was taken into custody for violating the state’s new fireworks law. (We’ve asked APD to pull similar figures on fireworks complaints and arrests from 2014 to compare the law’s effects, if any.)

That doesn’t mean the new fireworks law went into effect without a hitch. According to APD, Michael Durie was arrested and charged with reckless conduct on July 5 for allegedly lighting and throwing fireworks from a curb outside Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“The plastic wrapper from the fireworks was near his feet,” an initial APD report says. “There were other people in the area that started running when they heard the noise. They thought it was gun fire and fear full of there lives sic. There was no one hurt from this incident.”

Atlanta Fire Rescue spokeswoman Janet Ward says the department “has no data on fireworks incidents” from over the weekend at this time. Moving forward, she says, AFR officials will likely discuss with the city’s legal department “the possibility and efficacy of placing limits on where fireworks can be employed” for future July 4 celebrations.

However, the state law legalizing fireworks states that the “governing authority of a county or municipal corporation shall not prohibit the sale or use or explosion of consumer fireworks or products.” That is, unless it’s “expressly prohibited by general law.” Whether those limits jibe with that provision remains to be seen. So unless state lawmakers tinker with the law, amateur fireworks extravaganzas — we’re looking at you, incinerated Cabbagetown fireworks tent! — might live to see another day without restrictions.

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