Crews have been discharging explosives for decades during the July Fourth celebration at Peabody City Park with few reports of damage or injury.
Still, to make sure crowds, crews, and residences remain safe, Peabody firefighters always are stationed at the park.
A brush truck is positioned on the park track west of the fireworks display.
Other pieces of equipment — a pumper, rescue truck, and command trailer — are kept at the front gate.
“The brush truck is a one-ton pickup with a water tank,” Fire Chief Mark Penner said. “It is easy to maneuver and we can quickly move behind the firing crew or onto the grounds if we need to.”
Peabody firefighters spend a good part of July 4 at the park.
They spray the track east and south of the park with water several times so dust does not blow over visitors, vendors, and people participating in or watching games.
“We are generally the last ones out of the park at night,” he said. “We go back to the fire station and wait for as long as we hear people discharging their personal fireworks.”
The only time Penner recalls fireworks getting away from the firing crew was several years ago when part of an aerial display fell to the ground on land owned by a neighboring resident.
“We got it put out,” Penner said. “But he was not happy with us for going on his land, and that was a problem we had to sort out with him.
“When we are out there, we’re prepared. We are aware of dry conditions and we expect small fires at those times. Whether it’s something at the park or stubble in a field, this time of year we are prepared.”
Mike Regnier, Marion fire chief, also faulted weather and harvest conditions in addition to human error.
“We don’t have the big celebration Peabody has, but we still have people who shoot personal fireworks and sometimes those can get out of hand,” he said. “When it’s dry, of course, the problem is worse.”
Regnier said Marion firefighters are called out because of fireworks a couple of times a year.
“It was a relief to see,” he said. “That will help.”
“Awareness is key,” Penner said. “July Fourth is fun, but they need to use caution,” he noted.