Mike Aubin lit up Tuesday like the fireworks he will sell at the new store he is hoping will open with a bang July 1.
Pyro Mike’s Fireworks will open the same day fireworks that fly and explode become legal in Georgia.
“I hope on the second of July I’m ordering another truck,” Aubin said as he showed off some of the fireworks he will be stocking his shelves with next week. “Why go out of state anymore when you can get them right here?”
Aubin said he started jumping through the government’s hoops to get licensed as a retailer as soon as Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 110 into law May 5. His dedication meant he was the first person in the state to actually have his license in hand this week.
If the popularity of fireworks around July 4th is any indication of how business will be, Glynn County Fire Marshal Jerome Johnson is placing his bets on a big grand opening.
“I look for Pyro Mike’s to sell out,” Johnson said.
As for the fire department, Johnson expects July 4th to be as busy as always. There are always plenty of calls related to fireworks, even though until this July, they have not been legal in Georgia. Residents would travel to South Carolina and to other places to buy firecrackers and rockets that explode with a bang in air.
That will no longer be necessary as of July 1.
Part of Johnson’s job under the new state law will be to check retailers to make sure they are in compliance. So far, Johnson said Pyro Mike’s, 116 Cornerstone Drive, across from Tractor Supply Co. on U.S. 341, is the only retail outlet preparing to open July 1 in Glynn County.
Some temporary tents are likely to pop as well, he added.
With more people shooting bottle rockets, Roman candles and other variations on exploding devices that would have comedian David Spade’s “Joe Dirt” character shivering with excitement, Johnson is imploring everyone to remember fire and safety precautions.
“Even though we have had a little rain, the brush and the ground out there are very dry,” Johnson said. “My best suggestion to everybody is to be very careful and respectful of others around you. Be very careful about kids playing with them.”
That is part of the law Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said his officers will be watching. The state law requires people to be 18 years-old to have fireworks.
The law also limits the time fireworks can be shot to between 10 a.m. and midnight, except on July 3, July 4, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, when the curfew is extended to 2 a.m.
In unincorporated Glynn County, a local ordinance further restricts where people can set off fireworks by not allowing them in public parks, rights-of-way or roadways without a permit from Doering.
That includes at the beach on St. Simons Island.
Fireworks are also not allowed at the beach on Jekyll Island.
Doering has been training his officers on the new laws so they are well acquainted with what is and is not acceptable. Doering is hopeful most people will use their common sense and will not be reckless with the tiny, legal explosives.
“If you do things that are reckless with fireworks, you will be arrested for it,” Doering said.
Those things include shooting or throwing fireworks at other people, cars or houses.
“We just want people to be respectful of their neighbors,” Doering said.
If a noise ordinance needs to be developed later, Doering said he will suggest it to the county commission.
He expects there will be more reports of shots being fired that end up being attributed to fireworks. Those calls will be treated as actual shots being fired until officers find evidence to the contrary, Doering said.
His officers already respond to more than 10 reports of shots being fired each month, Doering estimated.
Todd Rhodes, spokesman for the Brunswick Police Department, expects there to be an increase in those calls in the city as well. Like in the county, they will be investigated like normal reports of shots being fired.
“We want everyone to stay safe in the city,” Rhodes said. “There is a big difference between shooting fireworks and firearms.”
Although there are no specific city laws that have been made to further restrict fireworks, Rhodes said they will not be allowed at Mary Ross Waterfront Park during the annual July 4 celebration.
If Brunswick Fire Marshal Rhett Fairfield had it his way, fireworks would not have been made legal. He said there are more than 8,000 Americans injured by fireworks and more than 20,000 fires annually.
“Commercial fireworks are a dangerous explosive and should never be stored or used near children, combustibles, or any other potentially flammable material,” Fairfield said.