Burn ban, firework safety in Smith County ahead of July 4 weekend

“When it comes to fireworks, this year I don’t anticipate the ban. I would ask everyone to have a good time but do it safely,” said Smith County Fire Marshal Ja
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 7:30 PM CDT
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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - East Texans are wondering whether July 4 fireworks will still be possible in Smith County.

“When it comes to fireworks, this year I don’t anticipate the ban. I would ask everyone to have a good time but do it safely,” said Smith County Fire Marshal Jay Brooks.

While we’re not in drought-like conditions right now, that would call for a burn ban, there’s still less moisture in the air compared to other times of the year.

“When we have a lot of moisture in the air and a firework explodes, an aerial firework explodes as it’s coming down, that ember will actually be cooled by the moisture that’s in the air,” Brooks said.

With dryer times, humidity is down causing less moisture.

“There’s less moisture in the air to cool those embers. So as those embers are coming down, they’re staying hotter longer and they can actually land on and ignite surfaces that are already dry,” he said.

Brooks said they track drought conditions using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI). The index ranges from 0-800 with an index of zero, meaning no moisture depletion. An index of 800 is complete dry conditions.

“Right now we’re sitting on an average, here in Smith County, about 616,” Brooks said. “We start really getting concerned when we start talking about numbers of 650 and above, especially when we get to 700, that’s a pretty dire lack of water for the county.”

If a burn ban is enacted in Smith County, County Commissioners would decide whether and how that ban applies to personal-use fireworks.

“The statute gives latitude to the court to enumerate the burn ban order. The burn ban order can include personal use fireworks, however it cannot preclude a permitted pyrotechnician. So a permitted pyrotechnician that has a permitted show is allowed to continue those in event of a burn ban.”

Burn ban or not, officials want to remind people of their responsibility.

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said, “With good rights come good responsibilities and we anticipate and expect and hope that citizens in Smith County will exercise responsibility toward themselves, toward their property, but also importantly, towards their neighbors and towards their neighbors and toward their properties as well as they burn or shoot fireworks.”

As for the sale of fireworks, even if a burn ban were enacted, those sales could still happen. The county had to take action before June 15 if they wanted to ban the sale of Fourth of July fireworks because of drought conditions.

This guidance is just for Smith County; you’ll want to check the rules and guidance where you live.

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