By Cecilia Chan
GSN Managing Editor

As Gilbert prepares for its July 4 celebration, town fire officials are on the look out for illegal fireworks.

Arizona allows for the purchase of certain consumer fireworks from May 20 to July 6 and their use from June 24 to July 6. Permissible fireworks include ground spinners, flitter sparklers and ground sparkling devices. Anything that can become airborne is banned, such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and aerial spinners.

Besides chain stores such as Costco and Fry’s markets selling fireworks, a handful of independent dealers like TNT Fireworks and Desert Sky Fireworks have set up temporarily in Gilbert for the upcoming holiday.

“We do monitor all the local fireworks stands for the legal versus illegal fireworks,” said Josh Friedman, Gilbert interim fire marshal. “Their shipping manifests are checked when they open and then spot checks, both in uniform and out of uniform, are conducted.

“In addition, we scan sites such as OfferUp and Craigslist for violators within the town. Currently for this season we do not have any known persons selling illegal fireworks, but we are just gearing up for the sales.”

People can only use fireworks on private property with the owner’s permission in Gilbert. Fireworks are prohibited on public property, including public parks.

People intent on using fireworks should keep in mind their danger.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. And, these fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 injuries, and an average of $43 million in direct property damage, the association reported.  

In 2017, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks-related injuries with one-third of those being children younger than 15, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In early June three teenagers were accused of playing with fireworks that set off a brush fire in north Phoenix.

For those who opt for a professionally staged firework show, the town’s free celebration of American Independence Day is Thursday at Higley High School, 4068 E. Pecos Road.

“We expect around 5,000 people to attend,” said town spokeswoman Jennifer Harrison.

The event is costing the town nearly $30,000-$14,500 for the fireworks, $11,000 for staffing such as police, fire and recreation and about $2,500 for traffic control and rental equipment, according to Harrison.

 Gilbert incidentally ranked No. 65 among the 100 largest U.S. cities for best place to celebrate Independence Day, according to WalletHub. Scottsdale was No. 12, Phoenix, No. 42, Tucson, No. 44, Chandler, No. 49 and Mesa, No. 62.

“The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate here in Gilbert and across the U.S. and whether you choose to have a poolside barbecue or join us for our July 4th Celebration at Higley High School to watch fireworks, there’s something to do for everyone,” Harrison said.

The personal-finance website compared the cities based on how well they balanced holiday cost and fun, using five key dimensions — Fourth of July celebrations, affordability, attractions and activities, safety and accessibility and weather forecast for the holiday.

Gilbert ranked No. 55 for its Fourth of July celebrations, No. 19 for affordability, No. 98 for attractions and activities, No. 25 for safety and accessibility and No. 39 for weather.

For the July 4 celebrations, WalletHub considered the number of festivals and performances in the municipality for that day, the duration of fireworks show and Google search interest for the event.

In determining the affordability rank, the average cost of hamburger, average beer and wine prices and lowest price of a three-star hotel were considered.

For attractions and activities, recreation friendliness was studied while for safety and accessibility, walkability, traffic congestion and DUI-related deaths per capita were some of the factors that came into play.

Surrounding celebrations on the holiday include:

Mesa: The Arizona Celebration of Freedom is free and takes place at the Mesa Amphitheatre and Convention Center complex, University Drive and Center Street, from 6 to 10 p.m. Fireworks are slated at 9:30 p.m.

Chandler: The city’s Fireworks Spectacular runs 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road. Admission is free but parking is $5.

Tempe: Gates at the Tempe Beach Park will open at 5 p.m. with $10 admission fees upon entry. Children 12 and under, or anyone with an active military ID are free. The Big Zephyr will play country music and a blend of old and new rock. Fireworks choreographed to music will be launched from the Mill Avenue Bridge at 9:15 a.m.

Early start: For those who can’t wait for a fireworks show, McDowell Casino will hold a free concert July 3 featuring Eagles tribute band One of These Nights 7:30-9 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9 p.m. 10424 N. Fort McDowell Road, Fountain Hills.

Gilbert’s celebration

What: Gilbert July 4 celebration. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and lawn games to the free event, which features food trucks and fireworks. Glass containers, alcohol, smoking and outside fireworks are not permitted at the main venue or viewing sites.

When: 6-9 p.m., Thursday, July 4. Gates open at 6 p.m. with fireworks show scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

Where: Higley High School, 4068 E. Pecos Road

Road restrictions will be in place from 8:15-9:30 p.m. along Pecos Road from Ranch House Parkway to Recker Road as well as Recker Road between Pecos and Williams Field roads.

Fireworks also can be viewed at Centennial Elementary School, Legacy Traditional Academy, Higley Unified School District’s administration building and at other locations along Recker and Pecos roads. Signs will be in place to direct drivers.

Safety tips for fireworks

Never allow young children to handle fireworks.

Keep pets inside.

Older children should use them only under close adult supervision.

Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.

Never hold lighted fireworks in hands.

Never light them indoors.

Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material.

Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.

Never ignite devices in a container.

Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks.

Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.

Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.

Never use illegal fireworks.