New Year's week popular time for fireworks sales

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MANNING - As New Year's Eve gets closer, fireworks vendors are profiting in their second busiest time of the year for sales.

The two vendors interviewed by The Sumter Item on Tuesday said they typically open up their sites three weeks a year, one week before the Fourth of July and the two-week period that includes Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Manning native Justin Shorter has been involved with firework sales for about 20 years. He and his father, Mike Shorter, own a fireworks stand that they set up this year near the intersection of Alex Harvin Highway and Raccoon Road.

The father and son buy all of the fireworks from a distributor and are able to keep the full profit from their sales, Justin Shorter said.

The size of the fireworks varies from single shots, to multishots, to 25-shot firework "cakes," Roman candles, noisemakers, firecrackers and sparklers.

Turbeville native Mike Jones has also operated a fireworks stand for about 20 years, co-owned with his brothers, David and George Jones.

Jones's stand is located on the corner of Sunset Drive and South Boundary Street.

Jones said the weeks during Christmas and New Year's are popular for fireworks purchases because besides buying fireworks to shoot on their own, people also buy them as Christmas presents.

Jones said prices vary based on the type and size of the fireworks, from $10 to about $150.

Both vendors will continue to operate through Jan. 1.

All potential firework vendors must submit an application with the South Carolina Board of Pyrotechnic Safety in Columbia. The application is available online at www.llr.state.sc.us/pol/pyrotechnic.

Applicants must submit a certificate of insurance and must verify proof of $1 million in public liability coverage for retail sales activities at their desired location for the permitted sales period, according to the South Carolina Board of Pyrotechnic Safety "Instructions for Applying for a Fireworks Retail Sales Permit." There are a number of other requirements that have to be fulfilled on the application.

Once the application has been received by the board, a deputy state fire marshal will contact a potential firework vendor prior to scheduling an inspection and to answer questions prior to the set up date of the stand, the application states.

If an applicant is wanting to set up a firework stand within the county they would also have to apply for a zoning permit with the Clarendon County Planning Commission, said David Epperson, county administrator.

"The area must have the appropriate zoning for that type of facility to go there," Epperson said.

The county does not have a business license requirement, however, Epperson said.

If a vendor wants to set up within city/town limits they must contact that city's/town's planning or zoning commission and also inquire about that municipality's business license requirement.

There are a number of safety tips the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission encourages people to abide by:

- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse;

- Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks;

- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully;

- Never point or throw fireworks at another person;

- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap;

- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers; and

- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.