When the public gathers on July 4 for the fireworks display at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club, they’re guaranteed all the pop and splendor of previous years, but public safety will be priority No. 1 for police and fire personnel.
“The festivities are a sizeable celebration for our city,” said Temple Terrace Fire Chief Keith Chapman. “We prepare carefully each year, but we have been closely monitoring the extremely dry conditions, along with city, county and state officials.”
This year, a rising heat index and drought conditions called for intense planning and monitoring. While recent precipitation has helped a bit, Chapman urged caution as moisture on the ground and vegetation can evaporate quickly. He discouraged burning debris or using a fire source, such as sparklers.
“We always focus on fire hazard outreach and education, but want folks to understand the risks involved, especially with this year’s drought conditions,” he said.
Two loopholes in Florida law allow the sale of sparklers—to scare away birds on agricultural lands, or to clear a railroad. Customers sign a paper stating they understand those restrictions and will comply with the law.
Tents selling illegal fireworks are prohibited by code and not seen within Temple Terrace city limits, Chapman said. While legal sparklers are available for purchase at grocery stores, Chapman urged the public to understand they burn at very high temperatures and remain hot for a long time.
“In Temple Terrace we see injuries to the hands, eyes and topical burns,” he said.
Instead, he discourages their use altogether.
“I would encourage people to enjoy the city’s fireworks display and not take the risk, especially with such a high fire danger,” he said.
Chapman explained that the fireworks display at the country club is created by a licensed and professional team that has been inspected to ensure compliance with fire code and safety guidelines. The Temple Terrace Fire Department closely monitors wind and changing conditions as well. To further minimize risk, a fire watch is established, as is a drop zone, where debris from spent fireworks might land.
“The fireworks are stationed in a very safe area, and we have copious amounts of people on hand to minimize the risk to people and property,” Chapman said.
He encouraged folks to watch the display from the first fairway, located near Woodmont and Belle Terre avenues. But he said revelers should leave sparklers at home.
“None are allowed on the golf course,” he said.
For those also attending the parade, Chapman cautioned that hydrating and eating would be helpful to minimize risks from heat exposure.
“The Fourth of July is a big day in Temple Terrace,” he said, “and we want people to be safe.”