5 reasons Dallas needs to ditch noisy fireworks on the 4th of July
Dallas, Fort Worth, and other cities across Texas practically burned up on the Fourth of July, with numerous grass and bush fires ignited by fireworks displays — some dangerous enough that Fort Worth had to pull the plug on its show in the first 10 minutes.
In Dallas, a large grass fire blazed under Margaret Hunt Bridge at 11 pm, which fire officials were unable to reach for nearly 40 minutes, due to traffic on the bridge.
Dallas and Fort Worth fire departments were inundated with so many calls that one fire dispatcher described it as "almost like the  ice storm." According to Texas Storm Chasers, people were even shooting fireworks at Dallas firefighters while they tried to put out fires.
Texas is experiencing a serious drought, with North Texas ranging from severe to extreme conditions. On June 28, the Tarrant County Commissioners Court approved an outdoor burning ban for Tarrant County, banning all burning in Tarrant County for 90 days.
We can survive without fireworks. Thanks to the pandemic, Dallas skipped them in 2020 and 2021, and in recent years, locations such as Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming have considered or enacted bans.
Here's 5 reasons why the noisy fireworks tradition need to be torched:
1. They freak out pets/wildlife
Fireworks are terrifying to pets. In Dallas, careless owners leave their pets outdoors and/or untended, who get spooked by the fireworks and get loose, making them vulnerable to dangerous scenarios such as getting hit by a car. Animal shelters across Texas are already overrun with stray animals, and the influx of animals displaced by fireworks makes July 4 one of the worst days of the year for animals.
For animals with more finely tuned senses including hearing, fireworks can be devastating. Bees become so disoriented, they can't find their hives. Birds have panic attacks and die. Wild animals abandon their dens.
2. They're bad for climate/environment
Fireworks unleash chemicals such as barium and aluminum into the atmosphere, which can harm people and the environment. To create an explosion, many fireworks contain oxidizers known as perchlorates, which contaminate rivers, lakes, and drinking water. Fish and other animals die after ingesting debris.
Fireworks affect local air quality, releasing toxic gases and pollutants that poison the air, water, and soil, making them toxic to birds, wildlife, and pets.
3. They're a fire risk
The 2022 rendition of July 4 is stark proof, as hundreds of fires caused by fireworks ignited across Texas.
The country is getting hotter, with climate change, drought, and soaring temperatures setting the stage for an increase in devastating wildfires. Texas is one of five states including California, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida that have seen the most wildfires caused by humans so far this year, and fireworks contribute to that.
4. They fire up aggro males
Fireworks are not strictly a gender issue, but if you do a headcount in any neighborhood Facebook group on who's defending fireworks, it's 90 percent aggro males and 10 percent wannabe aggro females who equate loud obnoxious noises with strength or power.
Someone will post concern about the impact of fireworks on animals or people at risk, and the response is generally along the lines of a gleeful "So what." Let's stop creating an opportunity for celebrating cruelty.
5. Alternatives exist
Traditional Fourth of July fireworks displays can be replaced by laser shows and by the use of drones with colored lights. Depending on the number of drones, the shows can cover the entire sky, spreading out hundreds of feet. These reduce wildfire risk, pollution, and loud noises.
They're also more eco-friendly: Fireworks are single-use while drones can be used again and again. Reunion Tower incorporated them in their 2021 New Year's Eve show, and AT&T Discovery District opts for a digital firework show with drone footage of downtown Dallas; on July 4th, it was accompanied by a performance by Old 97s.
The city of Galveston heroically went with drones, and the 2022 July 4th celebration at The Sound at Cypress Waters employed silent fireworks with a laser light show — an approach to 4th of July that every city could follow.