LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -While many people are ready for fireworks and barbecues for the Fourth of July weekend, fire departments are urging people to keep safety in mind.
Each year during the holiday weekend, firework-related incidents keep first responders busy. Even though it is illegal to let off fireworks in Lawton, it's legal in most places in Comanche County. The Comanche County Sheriff's Department and volunteer fire departments handle the county calls. They say many of those could have been avoided if people would simply follow some basic precautions.
Volunteer firefighters say it's important to have a way to put out a fire if one is started. They say make sure you know where it is permitted and to use common sense.
Tobey Cable, a volunteer firefighter for Cache Fire and Rescue who also works selling fireworks at a stand just outside of city limits on Highway 7, knows what the dangers can be shooting fireworks and he tries to encourage buyers to be safe.
"With artillery shells, the main thing to watch out for is whenever you light it, make sure you're not anywhere near it. Make sure you're not looking down the tube when it's lit, it's not pointed at anybody, it's on safe sturdy ground. And then the most important part is to have a fire extinguisher nearby just in case you catch the field on fire or wherever you're at," Cable explained.
Lieutenant Ronnie Smith of the Comanche County Sheriff's Department is also the Assistant Fire Chief for the Valley View Volunteer Fire Department. He says while fireworks are legal to let off in the county, people should still be safe and respectful of people's property.
"In the county, you can go just about anywhere. You know, if you get on some roads and people come out and don't want you around their house, it'd be best to move on. Because when you're disturbing somebody's peace you can get a ticket for disturbing the peace, and so it's best to do them where you're familiar with them, where there's people that you know. Not just out here on the road, in the middle of the street and the middle of the night," Lt. Smith said.
Valley View Volunteer Fire Captain and SkyWARN meteorologist Matt DiPirro says in 2012, when the station started and the area was in a big drought, the land was dry and they ran on around a dozen grass fires in one night. He says ever since then, they've been a lot more prepared.
"We realized that it'd be best to maybe man our station that evening. So, we'll have families come out here, our families come out here. We'll cook out and we'll hang out here at the fire station and we'll actually have guys pretty much geared up ready to respond. We'll have the trucks pulled out, gassed up and we'll be able to go if we do get a call for a grassfire started from fireworks or any sort of emergency call that evening. We'll be able to get a quick jump on it," DiPirro said.
Cable says fireworks are dangerous if you aren't safe. He encourages people to have fun, but use common sense when it comes to shooting off the fireworks.
"Plenty of dangers with the Black Cats, make sure you're not holding them in your hand because you'll blow your finger off. There's a lot of other safety hazards along with it. Make sure nobody's throwing them at each other. Roman Candles, I know there's a lot of people that do Roman Candle fights. The main thing is don't shoot them at anybody, make sure they're not pointed at any houses or at any fields," Cable said.
First responders encourage people to have a water or an extinguisher available in case a fire does break out, but to not hesitate to call 911 if a fire does get out of hand.
Some towns and cities in southwest Oklahoma allow people to let off fireworks and may even put on a show.
Hollis –Residents can let their fireworks off at the baseball field on July 4 at 10 p.m.
Olustee –Residents will have to go out of town to let off fireworks.
Eldorado –Fireworks can be let off at the baseball field.
Blair –Residents are not allowed to let off fireworks in town.
Mountain Park –Residents can let off their own fireworks
Snyder – Residents are not allowed to let off fireworks in town.
Manitou –Residents are allowed to let of their fireworks throughout the weekend.
Tipton –Residents are allowed to let of their fireworks until 11 p.m. on July 2, 3 and 4. The town will have a celebration starting at 5 p.m. on July 4 and a fireworks display will start at dark.
Davidson –Residents can let off fireworks.
Chattanooga –The fire department will have a display and residents are allowed to let off their own fireworks.
Grandfield –Residents can let off their fireworks, but they are not allowed to do so between midnight and 9 a.m. You must clean up your mess.
Apache –Fireworks are not allowed to be let off in city limits.
Elgin –Fireworks can be let off at the baseball field on July 4 between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. if the fire department has someone there to monitor it.
Lawton – Fireworks are not allowed to be let off in city limits. The City will put on a display on July 2.
Geronimo –Residents are allowed to let off their fireworks in town.
Walters – Residents are allowed to let off their fireworks on the night of July 4 at Sultan Park.
Temple –Residents are allowed to let off fireworks around the lake up to the Fourth of July.
Velma –Residents will be allowed to let of their own fireworks on July 3, 4 and 5. On July 2, Velma will have the "Super Summer Celebration" starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Velma Picnic Grounds. Call Velma Town Hall at 580-444-3393 for more information.
Medicine Park –Residents are not allowed to let off fireworks in city limits, but there will be a display on July 3.
Sterling –Residents will be allowed to let off fireworks on July 3 and July 4 from 10 p.m. until midnight.
Comanche County –Fireworks are allowed to be let off in the county.
Caddo County – Fireworks are allowed to be let off in the county.
Tillman County – Fireworks are allowed to be let off in the county.
Stephens County – Fireworks are allowed to be let off in the county.
Jefferson County – Fireworks are allowed to be let off in the county.
Cotton County – Fireworks are allowed to be let off in the county.