Getting the most bang for your 4th of July buck

To pop fireworks, you must be 5,000 feet from the nearest city limit -- and either own the property where you want to discharge your fireworks or have the permission of the owner. (Video by Max Faulkner/Star-Telegram)
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To pop fireworks, you must be 5,000 feet from the nearest city limit -- and either own the property where you want to discharge your fireworks or have the permission of the owner. (Video by Max Faulkner/Star-Telegram)


Fireworks 101: Where to watch, where to buy and how to keep your dog safe

By Robert Cadwallader

June 29, 2017 12:13 PM

Regardless how tight the city finances get, budget-makers always put money away for one of the most popular and festive of city services — annual Fourth of July fireworks shows.

Almost all Tarrant County cities are planning patriotic celebrations headlined by fireworks displays on or around the Fourth.

They’re spending generally $20,000 to $25,000, with a few surpassing $30,000. Some are getting financial help from sponsors.

And, the organizers all seem to agree, it’s a good deal.

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“The event brings the community together to help celebrate our nation’s independence,” said Phillip Rogers of the Arlington Parks and Recreation Department, which, along with sponsors, spends $26,000 on Light Up Arlington show at the Levitt Pavilion.

Grapevine is spending a whopping $45,000 for a fireworks show over Lake Grapevine, set to patriotic music, while Grand Prairie is getting a two-day fireworks show for its $25,000 investment at Lone Star Park.

Mansfield will spend $25,000 on its fireworks show this year.
Star-Telegram archives

Other cities spend similar amounts: Mansfield spent $25,000 for its 10th Annual Rockin’ 4th of July; Southlake earmarked $22,000 for the 19th Annual Stars & Stripes: North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Watauga and Haltom City split $32,000 for the Northeast Tarrant Chamber Family 4th Celebration.

Tarrant County Fire Marshal Randy Renois is big fan of city fireworks shows, namely because it keeps fireworks in the hands of professionals.

“It doesn’t cost people anything,” he said. “They don’t get in trouble, and they don’t get injured.”

Here are five things you should know about fireworks in North Texas:

1. Where can I shoot fireworks?

Let’s start with where you can’t. You can’t shoot them within the city limits of any municipality in Tarrant County. Fines can be steep. In Fort Worth, the sale, discharge or even possession of fireworks is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000. And your fireworks will be confiscated and destroyed.

To pop fireworks in an unincorporated area of the county, you must be 5,000 feet from the nearest city limit — and either own the property where you want to discharge your fireworks or have the permission of the owner.

“You can’t just pull over off the road and shoot fireworks,” Renois says. And you can’t shoot them from a vehicle or at a vehicle.

2. Where can I buy fireworks?

Just about anywhere outside the core of Tarrant County.

The number of stands firefighters inspected grew from 75 to 102 last year, said Renois, who blamed state legislation that eliminated a 5,000-foot minimum setback of fireworks stands from the nearest city limits.

Most fireworks stands are clustered in an area stretching from southwest to southeast Tarrant County, including numerous stands on Farm Road 1187 between Burleson and Rendon.

“But there’s a lot up around Eagle Mountain Lake,” Renois said. “And there’s some south in Whiskey Flats, around Highway 377 and 1187,” near Benbrook Lake.

Some of the more popular fireworks at Nathan Carlson's fireworks stand in Burleson.
Max Faulkner

You can also find them along Texas 114, in between Roanoke and Texas Motor Speedway.

State law allows fireworks stands to open 10 days before July 4, and they must close by midnight on the night of the Fourth.

3. How dangerous are fireworks?

Fireworks injure people, and they start fires.

Most injuries are to the hands because people don’t understand the dangers involved. Sparklers, for instance, a favorite with the little ones, burn at at temperature of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt metal and glass.

And they can be deadly: Fireworks killed 11 people in 2015 and four last year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Stupidity is an aggravating factor, said Dr. David C. Smith, trauma medical director for Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital.

“A preponderance of the fatal injuries have been caused by the larger aerial shells, and people were doing really stupid things, like putting the fireworks on their head and lighting it to use their head as a launcher — and it blew up,” Smith said in a recent press conference.

Also, the impact of a large shell exploding at your chest can be fatal, “just like you’ve seen kids getting hit by a baseball and dying — it’s the same type of phenomenon.”

Fireworks send more than 9,500 people to emergency rooms in the U.S. each year and cause more than 24,000 fires resulting in an estimated $17 million in property damage, according to a Fort Worth Fire Department statement.

“The period surrounding the July Fourth holiday accounts for nearly two-thirds of all fireworks-related fires,” it said. And if a fuse burns down and the firework doesn’t ignite, leave it be. It could go off at any time.

And sometimes fireworks don’t behave as advertised, said Brad Sims, an arson/bomb squad investigator at the Fort Worth Fire Department. “They’re quality control is not such that you can count on a firework that shoots straight up always shooting straight up.”

4. How do I keep my dog at peace?

Fireworks freak out a lot of pets and farm animals, and they create a lot of strays for animal shelters July 5.

“My horses go crazy,” Renois said. “We pin them up in stalls. Animals can get excited, run around and hurt themselves.”

Dogs are especially bothered by fireworks, which can cause anxiety and trigger flight instincts.

Here are a few tips:

▪ Give the dog a safe place inside. Call it a doggy shelter. It might be an open crate or an interior room, closet or a bathroom.

▪ Other noise is good. The humming of a box fan can be soothing, as can soft music.

▪ Use Thundershirts or other snug garments designed to comfort the animals.

▪ Ask your veterinarian if your dog should take medicine such as Sileo, which aims to calm “canine noise aversion.” It became available last year.

5. Where can I watch fireworks?

We’ve got you covered. Find a list of many of the cities that are putting on fireworks shows in the DFW area at

This story includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Robert Cadwallader: 817-390-7186, @Kaddmann_ST