People celebrating the New Year’s holiday may purchase fireworks for their festivities, but they’re not legal to have inside of city limits.
Bell County Fire Marshal Chris Mahlstedt said fireworks are available for purchase from Dec. 20 to Jan. 1.
“There are no restrictions on the sale of fireworks currently,” he said. “Restrictions can be placed if the county is under a burn ban. Bell County is not currently under a burn ban.”
Fireworks Superstore USA at 7220 Nolan Bluff Drive in Belton offers a wide variety of items ranging from a $1 black snake all the way up to a $999 full pyrotechnic display.
“When people come to the store for the first time … they’re looking for some entertainment for the kids,” store manager Ronald Hodge said. “They’re not accustomed to the large selection of fireworks that we carry. We’ll give them the layout of the store. We have TV monitors near all the product aisles, and they can see what the fireworks do before they purchase them.”
The use, purchase and possession of fireworks is only legal in unincorporated areas of the county, Mahlstedt said.
“Retail fireworks stands and stores are not permitted to operate inside the city limits,” he said. “It is illegal to transport, possess, or discharge fireworks inside city limits. Fireworks are not legal on any Corps of Engineer property or lake parks. This would be enforced by inspections of retail firework stands or stores and by law enforcement patrols.”
Hodge expects a rise in traffic on the store as the new year approaches and people prepare to say goodbye to 2021.
“The sales have been steady,” he said. “New Year’s Eve and the 30th are our busiest days during this time of the year. Our repeat customers — and we have a lot of repeat customers — are coming in to get the 500-gram crates to have the aerial shows with lots of colors. Their family get-together is doing the new year’s season by getting a lot of fireworks and having a nice show.”
The city of Temple launched a campaign asking residents to usher 2022 safely without the bang.
“Fireworks can aggravate (post traumatic stress disorder), especially in veterans and first responders,” Temple spokeswoman Kiara Nowlin said in a news release. “They often cause panic in pets, farm animals, and wildlife. Fireworks can harm people and damage property. And fireworks are illegal in the city of Temple and its neighboring cities.”
Temple Fire Chief Mitch Randles said residents care about the community, where one in every seven residents are veterans.
“Let’s support those who served our country, help our community stay safe from unintentional burns and property damage, and follow the law by welcoming in 2022 without fireworks,” he said.
Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds said his department would enforce firework laws within city limits.
“Temple PD will be adding patrols on New Year’s Eve and asks everyone to celebrate safely and legally,” he said. “Make sure you have a sober driver, be especially aware of others on the road, and please take a pass on the fireworks.”
Nowlin said residents could show their support for the campaign on their lawns.
“The city is providing free yard signs with the campaign’s messaging to residents,” she said. “These are available for pick-up at the (Temple) Police Department, Central Fire Station, Utility Business Office, and Sammons Community Center.”