Fireworks rules differ in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties

5:43 AM, Jul 4, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Loud and high shooting fireworks, also known as mortars, are the most popular among Floridians in Tampa and St. Petersburg, but those are the same fireworks that most vendors require customers to sign a waiver for.

The signed waiver says users are in compliance with the Florida Statute 791, and also that the seller is not responsible for any damages or injuries caused by the fireworks.

However, 10 News found a local fireworks stand that was not requiring customers who purchased the mortars to sign those waivers, which means the vendor would be responsible.

The other issue with customers signing the waiver is most are unaware of what they are signing.

"I just sign it every year. I don't think I am doing anything illegal; I just want my family to shoot them off safely and have a good time this Fourth," said a father with his two young children from St. Petersburg.

He went to a South Tampa fireworks stand because of an ordinance adopted in 2003 that says Pinellas County fireworks vendors cannot legally sell or purchase mortars, or fireworks that project in the air and explode. Sparklers remain legal under the ordinance.

However, Pinellas County Fire Division Manager Mike Cooksey told 10 News the ordinance is hard to enforce.

"The ordinance has become diluted because the surrounding counties do allow the sale of the bigger explosive fireworks," he said.

Florida Statue 791 states if you are going to launch a firework that explodes high into the air, you must use it for business, such as for agricultural purposes. For example, a farmer could use them to scare birds and creatures away from fish farms, railroad tracks or rock quarries.

So when a consumer goes to purchase an explosive, high shooting firework in Hillsborough County and signs a waiver, he is saying he is not only responsible for the explosives, but he is using them for an agricultural purpose.

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