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Residents urged to use caution

By By LISA TINDELL Staff reporter
A beautiful display of brightly colored sparkles drift through the dark night as the celebration of a new year arrives.
This will be the scene across the world as the year 2005 replaces the old number on our calendars. With this scene will be danger, injuries and broken laws.
According to Lawrence Weaver, Fire Chief for the City of Brewton, the celebration this season may pose a few dangers that revelers may not have considered.
According to reports from the National Council on Fireworks Safety, firework-related fires have caused between $15 and $20 million in property loss each year during the past decade.
Not only is potential property damage caused by using fireworks a concern, it is also against the law.
An ordinance, listed as Sec. 10-4, found in the Brewton Code books states that "it shall be unlawful for any person to keep, store, manufacture, sell, transport or handle within the city or its police jurisdiction any sparkler, squib, rocket, firecracker, Roman candle, fire balloon, or any other fireworks, or other composition used or usable to obtain visible or audible pyrotechnic display." Further explanation in the Code is that "it shall be unlawful for any person to explode or set off or cause to be exploded or set off, within the city or its police jurisdiction, any article or device described in section 10-4".
According to information from East Brewton Police Chief Wilson Mallard the same is true in city as well.
Not only may you find yourself in a legal bind if you choose to use fireworks at your celebration, you may be among thousands who end up in the emergency rooms across the country.
According to statistics released by the National Council on Fireworks Safety, more than 8,800 people, including children, were treated at hospital emergency rooms following recent celebrations. Burns were the leading type of fireworks-related injuries with contusions and lacerations following in second place. Hands and fingers were the part of the body injured in more than 31 percent of the incidents with more than 21 percent of the cases involving the eyes.
Pre-teens and teenagers face the highest risk of fireworks injuries with more than 62 percent of those receiving treatment being under the age of 20 and 34.5 percent of injuries being on those between 10 and 19 years of age.
Based on the amount of time and quantities in use, fireworks pose a higher risk of fire death than any other consumer product.
To enjoy a professional produced fireworks display, viewers are invited to join thousands in downtown Brewton on New Year's Eve for the annual Blueberry Drop and pyrotechnic display. The festivities will begin at 9 p.m.