No personal use of fireworks will be allowed in Maumelle on Wednesday despite the city’s ordinance allowing it, and citations will be issued to anyone using fireworks within the city.
Maumelle fire Chief George Glenn said the Pulaski County burn ban takes precedence.
With no rain in several weeks and the hot summer heat drying out grass, trees, houses and everything else, Glenn said the chance for an inadvertent fire are just too risky.
He said now the city is worried about catalytic converters on vehicles starting grass fires and cigarettes tossed out windows, much less a burning piece of explosives which can easily ignite a blaze under current conditions.
In fact, Mayor Mike Watson announced the city is taking special precautions to prevent the chance of a fire that could easily get out of hand in such a dangerous environment.
"The public fireworks display will be at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday July 4," he said. "We will be pre-wetting the grassy areas on both sides of the levee around the public fireworks discharge point starting Monday. The Police and Fire Department will have additional staffing on duty Wednesday to deal with the illegal discharge of fireworks and to handle any other emergency situations. The city will not be providing any areas for personal fireworks to be discharged within the city.
"Parking will not be available on Tract D [north of the Kroger Store] this year due to the dry conditions in the field and the fire danger from catalytic converters on vehicles. We ask that everyone cooperate with the burn ban so that we can have a safe and relaxing Holiday."
After an accident last July 4 that left a teenager crippled from a fireworks injury at Lake Willastein, the city reviewed its ordinances and revised the use of fireworks to a limited time and altogether on New Year’s Eve. However, with this year’s dry conditions and massive fires around the country, governmental agencies are taking no chances and are in fact banning the entire use of fireworks, except where permitted.
Maumelle did apply for and was awarded a permit to fire its annual extravaganza beginning at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at Lake Willastein.
Maumelle police Chief Sam Williams also issued a personal plea to Maumelle residents to help with the issue at hand this week.
"I am asking all of you to please help us out this year," he cautioned in a written statement. "Due to the weather, discharging any personal fireworks has been banned. We don’t want to issue citations to any of our folks, but we must protect our citizens, our property, and our Firefighters and Police Officers. Please work with us to ensure that our children, friends, neighbors and relatives all understand the importance of complying with the burn ban. I am aware that everyone knows how dry things are around town, and that is why we have the ban, but also keep in mind that even a thrown cigarette could start a fire, so please be careful. Thank you, Sam."
Phillip Raborn, director of Maumelle’s parks and recreation department said, "We will have 4th Fest parking available inside Lake Willastein Park. However, this year we will be blocking vehicle traffic on track ‘D’ outside the park. This area along with the levy will be watered down by the city as a precaution for our fireworks display."
Chief Glenn suggested residents enjoying the holiday might want to take extra precautions and bring equipment with them to any cookout, family gathering or even the fireworks display in the event of an unplanned spark igniting a flame.
Here are his suggestions:
1. Do not discard any smoking materials into areas with vegetation.
2. Do not park in grassy areas as the vehicle’s exhaust system can ignite grasses easily.
3. Should a fire start, dial 911 immediately, and give an exact address or location.
4. If a fire starts near your home, then keep vehicles parked on one side of the roadway to allow emergency equipment to gain access to the area.
5. Have a garden hose with spray nozzle available. The hose should have enough reach to get to all points around the structure.
6. Dispose of barbecue grill ashes in a metal container with a lid. Keep the container outside and away from all combustibles.
7. Should a large fire erupt, be prepared to immediately evacuate the area.