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Public agencies urging fireworks safety

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Agencies at both county and state levels are encouraging area residents to use discretion in celebrating the advent of 2016 with fireworks.

According to News 6 partner Florida Today, Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Mark Schollmeyer said the better option is to attend a show put on by professionals.

"Keep a close eye on children at events where fireworks are used," Schollmeyer said.

He cited statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association, noting that fireworks cause an average of 20,000 fires per year in the U.S.

He also added pointed to another NFPA statistic that sparklers caused 41 percent of fires in 2013.

Those who choose to shoot off fireworks at home are advised to follow the directions of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Officials say despite recent rainfall the fact that rainfall reducing wildfire risks, fireworks and campfires can start those fires year-round. They advise residents to also consult local laws before using fireworks.

They provided safety tips:

  • Follow all county or city fireworks laws.
  • Light fireworks in an area away from vegetation or debris.
  • Remove any debris from roofs or decks where fireworks might land.
  • Have a water source available.
  • Aim fireworks away from people, homes and wooded areas.
  • Do not allow young children to light or handle fireworks.
  • Never use homemade fireworks.
  • Discard used fireworks in a bucket of water.
  • Store unused fireworks and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Clean up all debris after using fireworks.
  • Report fires immediately to 911.

"I encourage Floridians who are ringing in the new year with fireworks to be careful in order to prevent wildfire," FDACS Commissioner Adam Putnam said in a release.