As the Fourth of July holiday nears, the Winchester Fire and Rescue Department (WFRD) reminds residents that public fireworks displays are the safest and most suitable alternative for viewing fireworks. Public display fireworks are established under a controlled setting, safety regulations, and monitored by public safety organizations.
Many fireworks are not available for purchase in the City of Winchester because they are illegal. Firecrackers, bottle rockets, and other aerial-style fireworks that leave the ground are just a few examples of fireworks which may be purchased in other states but are illegal in Virginia. The possession of unapproved fireworks is prohibited in Winchester, and such fireworks will be confiscated and persons possessing them can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. This carries a maximum penalty of a $2,500 fine and/or one year in jail. All fireworks that explode, emit a flame/sparks, or perform as a projectile are prohibited by the City of Winchester Fire Prevention Code. An approved fireworks list for use within the city limits can be found on our department website.
The WFRD recommends that you enjoy fireworks at a professional event. If you do purchase fireworks for private use, purchase them from an approved vendor within the city. Please consider the following safety precautions and recommendations:
- Remember to obtain approval from property owners before igniting fireworks on their property.
- Be mindful and courteous of neighbors and pets when igniting fireworks.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Adults should always supervise fireworks activities.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned. After fireworks have been fully discharged, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose close-by in case of fire or other mishap, especially during dry periods.
- Never use, ignite, or discharge any fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
- Never leave pets unattended, even in a fenced yard. The chaos may cause them to panic and try to escape.
A number of local communities and public venues offer firework displays. The City of Winchester’s community fireworks display will be held on July 3, 2019 at approximately 9:15 pm in Old Town Winchester as part of the Rockin’ Independence Eve event. Visit EnjoyOTW.com for more event information.