Fire officials stress safety during July 4 holiday weekend

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads fire departments want to make sure you have a safe Independence Day by celebrating the holiday in a safe way.

Emergency responders held a fireworks demonstration at the Virginia Beach Fire Training Center to show how dangerous they can be.

“We want to get ahead of the holidays to try to get their attention to show how dangerous they are to curtail their use of them, to show them it is illegal, it is dangerous and not to use them,” said Virginia Beach Fire Marshal Clay Cofer.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause an estimated 18,500 fires each year, along with thousands of injuries.

Cofer says consumer-grade fireworks are banned throughout the area.

“It’s the whole Commonwealth of Virginia, every city in Hampton Roads. The fireworks are illegal. All the Fire Marshals are out doing the same type of enforcement in the area,” he said.

Cofer says they’ll be out this holiday patrolling and issuing summons to those who are using fireworks.

Officials say if you’re caught, you could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“That’s punishable up to $2,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Ask yourself, ‘Is it worth it?’” said Art Kohn with the Virginia Beach Fire Department.

Officials want you and your family to be safe. That’s why they recommend attending professional shows.

“Bottom line is — go to the professional shows that are licensed, permitted by the Virginia Beach Fire Marshal’s Office. Leave the fireworks to them and not to do it yourself,” he said.