Lexington, County, SC (Paul Kirby) – It’s almost the Fourth of July and just about everyone is ready for some fireworks. If you aren’t excited you may as well prepare yourself, they are coming. Although many states heavily regulate the use of personal fireworks at any time, South Carolina’s laws are very lenient on these. In Lexington County, fireworks rules depend on whether you live in the county or one of the cities or towns.
According to Captain Adam Myrick, spokesman for Lexington County’s Sheriff Jay Koon, there is no fireworks-specific ordinance for the unincorporated portions of the county. The Lexington County Sheriff’s department treats every call on fireworks as a noise complaint. While there are no time limits or restrictions on fireworks in the county, that department does respond to individual noise complaints. Myrick said, “Each of those is evaluated case-by-case and it's up to the responding deputy to determine if enforcement action or other steps are needed.”
In the Town of Lexington, their noise ordinance is also used. Theirs is tough and obviously written to maintain some peace and quiet. It includes things like playing a radio or television loudly, having a loud car or motorcycle, or even a dog that barks continuously or a cat that meows incessantly. No, I am not kidding when I say it covers meowing cats. The ordinance doesn’t specifically refer to fireworks, but it does apply to the discharge of fireworks that makes any noise year-round. Their police officers do enforce this when they aren't tied up even around the holidays without exception.
Chief Seth Zeigler of the Chapin Police Department summed up that town’s fireworks regulations with one sentence. Zeigler said, “Only on the 4th, as long as it is done responsibly, until 11 p.m.” If that’s too difficult for you to interpret, maybe you better call your attorney! Now we will say we asked about the Fourth of July and that was the chief’s answer. I’m sure there’s a simple rule about New Year’s too.
South Congaree’s is fair. Their ordinance allows a person to fire, shoot, or discharge any fireworks of any description except between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. any day of the year. That means that on the Fourth of July you can go until 11:00 p.m. On New Year’s Eve, you can continue until 1:00 a.m. Exceptions can be made by the town’s council.
Springdale’s is well written and easy to understand. In that town it’s against the law to discharge any fireworks within the town’s limits on any day between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Otherwise, have the go ahead all year long, just keep your eye on the clock! On the Fourth of July, you can start at 7:00 a.m. and continue until midnight and on New Year’s Eve, it’s 7:00 a.m. until 1:30 a.m.
According to Captain Connie Billings of the Batesburg-Leesville Police Department, that town is a little tougher on a citizen's personal display. It is prohibited for any person or persons to light, fire, ignite, or discharge fireworks within the town with a just a few exceptions. You can discharge fireworks between 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on the Fourth of July and from 10:00 a.m. on December 30th until 1:00 a.m. on January 1st. That covers New Years Eve. There are exceptions for town sponsored professional displays during events like the Poultry Festival or if you get a special permit. You cannot use fireworks if a RED FLAG Fire Alert is in effect. By the way, in that town, all discharging of fireworks must be done under the supervision of a responsible adult. That makes sense and should make things a lot safer.
Assistant Police Chief Scott Morrison of the West Columbia Police Department explained that city’s fireworks ordinance in a statement that anyone should be able to understand. He said, “This is when you can shoot fireworks in West Columbia.” Then he sent two ordinances that say you can discharge or light fireworks on the Fourth of July between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. You can also do that again between the hours of 9:00 a.m. on December 31 and 1:30 a.m. on January 1, New Year’s Eve; that’s all folks!
First Sgt. Evan Antley of the Cayce Department of Public Safety sent us this. “It shall be unlawful for any person to use, fire, shoot, or discharge any fireworks within the corporate limits of the city (Cayce), except as provided by section 20-47.” Section 20-47 says you can light fireworks on the Fourth of July between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. You can also do so between the hours of 10:00 a.m. on December 31 and January 1 at 1:00 a.m.
In Irmo, discharging fireworks is unlawful unless they are the kind considered, “Safe and sane.” Their list of those include things like sparklers, snaps, smoke bombs, snakes, and fountains. The few exceptions are on the Fourth of July between 7:00 a.m. and midnight, and from December 31 at 7:00 a.m. until January 1 at 1:00 a.m.
Gaston’s ordinance is tough on personal fireworks displays. They’re an absolute no-no without a permit from the town hall you need to get ten days prior to discharging your fireworks. Sorry you Fourth of July revelers, perhaps we should have run this story back in June. You can also get in trouble for selling fireworks to anyone under 14 years old in Gaston if their parent or guardian isn’t with them. Major Stephen Watkins of the Gaston Police Department said Wednesday, “We are very lenient on holidays unless it becomes a nuisance or it’s late at night.” The bottom line here, on the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, use some common sense or you could stop the fun for everyone.
The Town of Pine Ridge’s Interim Police Chief Vince Silano told us in that town, there is no particular policy regarding fireworks. Instead, the town ordinance on noise applies to an extent. Silano said, “In a nut shell, that ordinance states that it is unlawful for any person to make or continue to make any loud, excessive or disturbing noise that disturbs, annoys the health, peace or safety of others.” Silano also said they considered their “quiet hours” to be between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. He said most agencies loosen that a bit on the July 4th and New Year’s Eve but he didn’t really say Pine Ridge was one of those “agencies” that did either. Again, the bottom line here seems to be for everyone to use some common sense, be respectful of everyone else’s feelings, don't be so loud, or leave the fireworks for someone else. In Pine Ridge, they value their peace and quiet!
In the Town of Swansea, Police Chief Cliff Hayes says they really don’t have an ordinance on fireworks. He said they ask citizens to shut it down at 10:00 p.m. on the Fourth of July and at 1:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.
In Pelion, Police Chief Mike Crider says this fall under their noise ordinance like many other towns. He says they ask people to shut it down at 11:00 p.m. on the Fourth of July. If you do that, you should be okay.
In Lexington County, most towns and cities, fireworks are reasonably regulated. It’s up to you to be an adult, be courteous, and for God’s sake be careful. Remember your neighbors who may have served in the military could suffer from PTSD. These men and women fought to help preserve our guaranteed right to freedom in America. This holiday can be hard on them. Also, fireworks terrify some animals and you should at least consider that before blasting away too.
Shooting a gun into the air to make noise as part of a celebration is a tradition in many Arabic countries. This isn’t an Arabic country and that’s plain stupid and dangerous. Remember a few basic laws like the law of gravity. What goes up must come down somewhere! It’s also illegal to discharge a firearm without a permit issued by the appropriate government in almost every town and city in Lexington County.
Fireworks can be great fun if you just know the laws, think about what you’re doing and consider the rights of others. Fireworks and intoxicants just don’t mix, and like Batesburg-Leesville’s ordinance says, a responsible adult should always supervise any child using fireworks. Follow the safety guidelines on each package and think about where your smoldering rocket or mortars are falling. A fire or a trip to the emergency room is a great way to ruin what could be a wonderful holiday.