MADISON COUNTY, Ala – Several local firework vendors said they have experienced higher than normal sales this year compared to last, however not all vendors are seeing the same thing.
Phantom Fireworks based in Ohio says they expect sales to be 115 percent higher than in 20-19.
“This year has been up a little. Probably almost double,” said Brian Land the owner of Fireland Fireworks in Meridianville.
Land assumes with more 4th of July activities being canceled, people may be more inclined to buy more fireworks themselves.
Land says he’s seen people get an earlier jump on getting their fireworks instead of waiting a day or so before Independence Day. He thinks some people knew supply was lower this year because firework factories in China were not able to supply the U.S. as much as they normally do.
“It started in December. We were thinking they would shut the factories in China down. We was thinking there would be none. We started panic buying,” said Land.
It’s no secret that fireworks in the hands of people can translate to a busy afternoon for emergency responders. For people that live outside of Huntsville city limits, larger fireworks are allowed. It just so happens that majority of county fire departments are staffed by volunteers.
These departments will tell you they are understaffed and sometimes under equipped to handle the regions growth.
The volunteers are not paid and have families of their own. Many of which would like to spend the holiday with their family. The other half have paid jobs, leaving volunteer stations with logistical issues on Independence Day.
“Some of our firefighters work at other agencies and they may be at those jobs or picking up extra shifts at other jobs,” said Zachary Trulson, the President of the Moores Mill Volunteer Fire Department.
Moores Mill have 33 volunteers on their staff. Between 15-20 of them work with other agencies.
“During the 4th of July, people will be shooting off fireworks, they may land on a building. When those sort of things happen, a structure fire is going to require almost all our resources at one time,” said Trulson.
On top of being stretched thin to answer calls, emergency responders have faced issues getting PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Trulson, getting the protection is starting to get easier. However, volunteer fire departments are asking people to give them space as they respond to calls to better protect the firefighters in order to keep them healthy and able to respond to more calls.
Moores Mill VFD says they are worried about children handling sparklers this time of year. Children have shorter arms and the heat from sparklers can melt some metals. They suggest parents help in holding the sparklers or explain the dangers to their kids ahead of time.