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Exercise safety for the 4th

FAIRMONT– Monday is July 4th and the City of Fairmont will be having its annual fireworks display at 10 pm or when weather conditions permit. Fireworks will be launched from the west side of Lake Sisseton, across from Wards Park. A salute will be shot on the hour beginning at 6 pm as a reminder.

The Fairmont display is one of the largest in south central Minnesota and is expected to run for about 20 minutes. In the interest of public safety and in accordance with federal law the path that runs across the lake’s western shore will be closed beginning at 8:30 am on the 4th and will reopen on the 5th.

Boaters are asked to keep wakes at a minimum on the lake beginning at 8:30 pm, and should stay at least three hundred feet from the western shoreline of the lake.

During the display a team from the fire department launches the fireworks from inside a small bunker located less than thirty feet from the launchers. This is the 29th consecutive year the fireworks display is conducted by the Fairmont Fire Department. A team of around eight people typically work between 12 and 14 hours to prepare for the show. The past three displays were coordinated by firefighter Sam Cress.

“I’ve always enjoyed fireworks growing up. … I enjoy doing it, I don’t get to see much of the show but hearing the boaters honk and people yelling after the show, it’s pretty rewarding being back there,” said Cress.

Since last year inflation has led to higher prices for firework shells, but rather than reducing the number or size of shells, the department has dipped into its reserves to maintain a display on par with previous years. While typically the display costs about $22,500, this display cost about $30,000.

In addition to the city display, fireworks will also be a fixture at private observances across the city. With the holiday approaching it’s important to be cognizant of firework safety and the risks fireworks can pose. Each year an average of 75 Minnesotans are hospitalized due to firework-related injuries, and almost half of those injured by fireworks are children.

Personal use of fireworks that can explode or shoot into the air is illegal in Minnesota. These fireworks can be dangerous and unpredictable.

“The fireworks statutes haven’t changed any. The only things that are legal today are handheld sparklers, sparklers on the ground, and stuff that doesn’t leave the air and explode,” says Martin County Sheriff Jeff Markquart.

Although safer by comparison, legal fireworks such as sparklers, fountains, and spinners can still cause fires and personal injuries. When using fireworks always make sure they are pointed away from people and animals. Sparklers cause 30 percent of firework related injuries in Minnesota and should not be given to young children.

High temperatures and a lack of rain mean a higher risk of fire. Before igniting fireworks it’s recommended to wet down an area in advance to avoid starting a grass fire. After fireworks are ignited, even if they are duds, they should be thoroughly extinguished.

“Make sure you submerge spent fireworks in water, and make sure they’re completely out. We had a caller around the 4th throwing them in the trashcan and they started a fire,” said Cress.

Although fireworks can pose some hazards to operators and bystanders, these risks are easy to address. Whether it’s at home or at the public display, heeding safety recommendations can lead to a safe and enjoyable 4th of July.

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