Boom, boom, pow
Harris County bans certain fireworks and HFD doles out steep fines for illegaluse
As New Year's Eve approaches, Harris County officials and the Houston Fire Department are laying down the law on fireworks.
While the city of Houston enforces a strict ban on fireworks, the unincorporated portions of Harris County — long known for their leniency on open burning and fireworks — are facing new restrictions this holiday season as the statewide drought continues to create dangerously dry conditions despite the recent rains.
County commissioners recently blocked the sale and use of two types of popular fireworks: Bottle rockets (also known as stick rockets) and missiles with fins.
A temporary ban on all types of fireworks this summer sparked serious business concerns for area retailers, who can sell twice a year in unincorporated areas from Jun. 24 to Jul. 4 and from Dec. 20 to Jan. 1. Though disappointed by the limitations on product choice, many local shop workers feel the summer prohibition has made December opportunities all the more exciting for fireworks aficionados.
Though disappointed by the limitations on product choice, many local shop workers feel the summer prohibition has made December opportunities all the more exciting for fireworks aficionados.
"Sales are doing very well this week," said Sue Davis, a spokesperson for Top Dog Fireworks, "much better than in recent years."
Meanwhile, back inside city limits, the Houston Fire Department is reminding citizens of a longstanding fireworks ban.
"There's always a ban on open burning in Houston," HPD chief inspector Marian Williams told CultureMap. "Restrictions on fireworks are in effect at all times."
"Fire marshals will be on the street this weekend handing out fines," Williams warned. "We recommend the New Year's Eve Live event for anyone hoping to catch some fireworks."
Fines range from $500 to $2,000 for each individual firework. Each case will be heard by a city judge, who determines the exact amount. The parents or guardians of any minor caught with fireworks will be fined, even if they were unaware of the child's possession or usage.
For all the amateur pyrotechnicians out there this weekend, here's a map laying out incorporated and unincorporated areas in Harris Country. Avoid the yellow.
Also remember that the Houston fireworks ban is strict enough to cover even their transport through city limits.Due to the seriousness of the drought, fire marshals no longer will hand out warnings as they have in the past — only tickets.