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Local fire departments conduct routine safety inspections at fireworks stores

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – During fireworks sales season, local fire departments visit stands frequently. Rock Community Fire Marshall Jeff DeLapp said his inspectors are busy in his Jefferson County district.

“If we do find an illegal item, we will pull it off the shelf,” he said.

DeLapp and his investigators visit every firework stand in the district each day and fill out a report. They ensure the stand is operating safely and they look for questionable fireworks.

The state fire marshal receives alerts from the state and even US Homeland Security about dangerous products.

“Some illegal stuff to look out for stuff that’s mislabeled stuff that doesn’t have any label on it,” DeLapp said.

In 25 years, DeLapp said he’s found a dangerous firework for sale only about six times in the entire district.

Mary Ditter, who’s owned and operated Fat and Franny’s Fireworks for 33 years, said she welcomes the oversight.

“If I’m doing something wrong, tell me and I’m going to fix it,” she said.

In the time she’s owned the fireworks store, she said consumer fireworks have gotten more powerful. She revealed if a customer warns her there’s a problem with one of her products—if it goes off too quickly, for example—she’ll act.

“I pulled it. It’s not worth someone getting hurt and I won’t buy it next year,” she said.

Edward Carnes and his neighbors will spend thousands of dollars on fireworks. The show they put on will draw a big crowd of kids. Carnes said their safety is his priority.

“We set them off in the common ground across the street, away from all the kids,” he said.

The fire marshal said over the years fireworks businesses, for the most part, have been good citizens and cooperated when it comes to safety concerns.

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