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Forsyth County prepping for new state fireworks law

FORSYTH COUNTY — Starting Wednesday, fireworks that have long previously been illegal will be available for purchase and shooting off in Georgia.

At their most recent meeting, the Forsyth commission discussed what the new law would mean for the county.

“Basically, it creates a new subcategory of fireworks called consumer fireworks,” explained County Attorney Ken Jarrard. “These are fireworks that have traditionally been prohibited in Georgia. When you enter Tennessee or Alabama, you may see some large fireworks vending retailers on the state line.”

While the new rules may benefit those who have had to go to other states for fireworks, it is causing headaches for local governments as fireworks can be set off “basically anywhere” that someone is allowed to be.

“The law is fairly clear that [those] 18 years or older can use the fireworks, but one of the more significant changes is that they can be used anywhere,” Jarrard said.

“Basically the statute says that they cannot be used indoors, but that they can be used basically anywhere that you are lawfully able to be and that otherwise they can be used anywhere except those places where there is a specific prohibition on fireworks.”

A big concern for local governments is the use of fireworks in parks, which could damage property, leave a mess and ruin the experience for others.

“A lot of [government] folks are having this same discussion now, because, candidly, the park and rec issue is sort of the issue,” Jarrard said. “I’ve got other jurisdictions asking me if there is anything that we can put in place, maybe perhaps that isn’t a strict prohibition, but things like reckless conduct.”

The county did not take any formal action to address these concerns, and Jarrard said it would not take away the county’s ability to enforce other laws.

The county attorney said he would research the issue for further discussion at a future meeting.

In addition, fireworks will only be allowed to be shot off between certain times, except on certain holidays.

“You can shoot them anytime between 10 a.m. and midnight, except around New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, July 3 and July Fourth and then you can shoot them from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.,” Jarrard said. “

The board of commissioners is actually even able to issue permits to allow folks to shoot them longer than that.”

As for the county’s lone municipality, Cumming, City Administrator Gerald Blackburn said it would permit any firework stands — the state handles permitting for actual stores — that were complying with Georgia law. The city has not formally discussed fireworks usage in its parks.