If passed, new bill could ease central Fla. fireworks restrictions



COCOA, Fla. - A new bill could make fireworks much easier to buy in central Florida after a state representative proposed lifting current restrictions in order to keep money in the state.

But Channel 9's Melonie Holt found not everyone who sells fireworks is happy about the idea.

Phantom Fireworks off State Road 520 in Cocoa has an entire aisle of state-approved sparklers, snaps, glow worms and the like.

But 90 percent of the store's showroom is dedicated to aerial fireworks, which come with restrictions that one Florida legislator wants lifted.

"The law itself, in some ways it would help. In some ways it won't," said Joseph Mele, of Phantom Fireworks.

Right now, customers who want to buy aerial fireworks are required to fill out paperwork stating their use meets certain state requirements. For instance, the fireworks must have an agricultural use or be for public or ceremonial use.

"There are two dirty five-letter words in this industry, beach and party," said Mele. "You say that and we are not going to sell you any fireworks. You're breaking the law."

The proposed bill would lift some of the regulations on the sale of fireworks and repeal the need for testing and approval of items like sparklers altogether.

"Right now, tents are limited by the state," said Mele. "The state requires a permanent building with sprinkler systems and safety exits."

But Mele said if legislators aren't careful, the bill has potential to compromise safety.

"We don't want anybody to get hurt," he said.

The fireworks bill was filed last month. It will be considered during the 2014 session.