By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — Although it’s still spring in Southern Illinois, the Mt. Vernon Fire Department is preparing for the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays by offering consumer fireworks training.
Eight class sessions will be offered between April 27 and June 29 for anyone interested in obtaining a consumer fireworks permit. This permit is required by law to purchase, possess, and/or display 1.4 grams consumer fireworks in the State of Illinois.
“We’ve been doing it since the state put together the law over the new consumer grade of fireworks,” explained Lt. Donny Hayes of the Mt. Vernon Fire Department. “Up until about six years ago, the state regarded all fireworks, except those regulated, as unsafe. Then they decided to come on board to allow a 1.4 gram firework in the state, providing the residents took a safety course put on by a local jurisdiction and receive an operator permit.”
Hayes estimated the department has issued up to about 200 permits per year.
“A lot of them are the same people every year, but we get anywhere from 150 to 200 per year,” Hayes said.
Covered in the training will be the law pertaining to fireworks and the city ordinance and the safe handling and display of consumer fireworks.
“We do a Power Point presentation that covers the guidelines of the law. It’s pretty much common sense. You only light one item at a time, you make sure you secure a safe place, and you check the weather to make sure there are no adverse conditions, especially the wind,” Hayes said, adding that about 99.9 percent of those tested at the end of the course pass the test required to be certified.
After receiving 100 percent on the safety questions and 80 percent on the knowledge of fireworks, participants must also be familiar with ordinance codes.
“For people that live in the corporate city limits if they choose to have an outdoor supply, they have to call the fire department and I have to inspect the site to make sure it meets requirements of the state.
If they live in the county, they have to go to the county clerk’s office and fill out a permit the county requires,” Hayes said.
Classes will be held on the following dates: 10:30 a.m. April 27; 6:30 p.m. May 15, 10:30 a.m. May 18; 6:30 p.m. May 29; 6:30 p.m. June 5; 10:30 a.m. June 15; 6:30 p.m. June 26; and 10:30 a.m. June 29. Classes are limited to the first 18 people who register. Hayes is accepting applicants at the MVFD at 242-6835 Monday through Friday.
The classes, which will be held for approximately 90 minutes, will be held at the Muni-West Building at 200 Potomac Blvd. A valid driver’s license or state photo ID is required to receive a consumer operator permit.