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Fire officials want NYE fireworks launched from barge

Roanoke Island Fire Chief Talmadge “TJ’ Jones is imploring the Town of Manteo to launch New Year’s fireworks from a barge, and not from land.

“It’s not about the cost, but about the safety,” he said.

Jones appeared before the Manteo Board of Commissioners earlier this month to present a resolution adopted by the Roanoke Island Fire Department’s Board of Directors urging the town not to use a land-based site located at the Roanoke Island Festival Park.

Manteo officials hoped the fireworks would be launched from the less expensive land-based site, as in past years. The fire department sees the Festival Park site as a potential fire hazard to the park’s buildings and adjacent marsh.

Jones told the board that if the town approved the land-based launch, the fire department would need to commit a fire engine and 11 firefighters on the site for safety reasons. He told commissioners because the occurrence of the fireworks takes place so late on Dec. 31, it would be unlikely the department would be able to staff the event. The Roanoke Island Fire Department provides fire services to Manteo with unpaid volunteers.

Instead of the Festival Park launch site, the fire department wants the town to send the fireworks skyward from a barge, located near the town’s harbor. Only a couple of firefighters and a boat would be needed for a water-based launch. The town in recent years has used a barge for pyrotechnic displays.

The fire department acknowledges it doesn’t have the authority to force the town to move the fireworks launch from the town’s preferred site inside the boundaries of Festival Park, but asked for safety and logistic reasons, the town consider the request.

The RIFD request doesn’t jeopardize the planned New Year’s Eve celebration. No matter if by land or sea the town has enough dedicated funding to bring in the New Year with a bang.

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