Cumberland Times-News

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June 7, 2013

Potential for fireworks problem known by city for 2 years

Fire marshal: Location will be named once paperwork is finalized

CUMBERLAND — Cumberland officials have known that they would need to find a new location for the city’s Independence Day fireworks display for at least the last 2 1/2 years, according to Deputy State Fire Marshal Jason Mowbray.

Now, the city is finalizing its agreement with a private landowner in city limits to allow this year’s fireworks display to occur, according to City Fire Marshal Lt. Shannon Adams.

“We had a very productive day yesterday,” Adams told the Times-News on Friday morning.

An announcement of the location will be made once the last little bit of paperwork is done, which will be in less than a week, Adams said.

Adams acknowledged that the city had slowly been looking for a new site after being notified that Constitution Park no longer met the fire code requirements based on the distance needed from an occupied building.

Before the Allegany County 911 Center re-opened in April 2010, it was totally underground. “The code never applied to that building,” Mowbray said. But that changed when renovations were made to the center at Constitution Park to include an above-ground structure.

At that time, the state’s Fire Marshal’s Office met with the city fire department and Parks and Recreation to express its concerns.

Officials reviewed the National Fire Protection Association standards for pyrotechnic displays that require a fallout area to be established at a certain distance from any building that would be occupied at the time of the fireworks shoot. The distance depends on the size of shell to be detonated. “The bigger a shell you have, the bigger a fallout area,” Mowbray said.

This year’s fireworks will be using up to 6-inch shells, Adams said.

Mowbray quoted an 840-foot diameter requirement for 6-inch shells.

In comparison, fireworks that have been shot for previous Canal Place events used only 1-inch shells that required a 150-foot fallout area.

The state code, which has not changed for at least a decade, Mowbray said, also prohibits any vehicles, including firetrucks, to be located in the fallout area.

Only the fireworks shooters and fire marshal are allowed in the area.

“This is not the first time across the state that we’ve adjusted a site,” Mowbray said.

Adams believes that residents won’t be disappointed with the new location. “This is going to be an area where people can see better (than Constitution Park),” he said.

At the same time, the fire department will be able to keep the site secure and have good access for its vehicles, if needed, Adams said.

The city will be able to announce the new location once the contract is signed by the city, the landowner and the fireworks company.

“It will be in the very near future,” Adams said.

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