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Kirby: Use caution and wiener dogs to fight fire dangers

By Robert Kirby

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Jul 01 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Jul 04 2014 07:30 pm

The semi-annual attempt to burn down Utah begins … well, right now. Independence Day isn’t until Friday, but fireworks are already being sold and set off.

Because of the fire danger, Sonny and I have already begun altering our cannon shoots. We’ve stopped shooting bowling balls at mountains. The high-velocity impact sometimes sparks, which could start a fire.

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Instead, we are shooting live wiener dogs out of the larger gun. Did you know dachshunds are the perfect fit in the bowling ball cannon? Yeah, and with their collars removed they don’t spark as much when they hit the mountain.

Note: I’m just kidding about shooting live wiener dogs out of a cannon. We would never do that. The live ones keep climbing out of the barrel. So we euthanize them first.

Another note: Corgis also work well but it’s kind of a hassle to trim their ears for better ballistics.

Where was I? Oh, right, fire danger. As always, the risk is high in Utah this summer. Please exercise caution when using fireworks, particularly illegal ones.

I say this because every year someone in this state finds out that a 50-cent bottle rocket can fetch a bill from a fire department in the thousands of dollars. The "ooh" and "ahh" factor in that is huge.

A few basic common-sense rules seem to be in order. Unfortunately, when it comes to fireworks, everyone thinks they have common sense. They don’t. So that’s why there is a test.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety (http://fireworksafety.com/) has a short 10-question multiple-choice test to evaluate your basic common sense regarding fireworks.

I took the test and failed. I got three answers wrong. That’s still 70 percent, or a passing grade in other tests, but since one missed fireworks question can be equal to the destruction of a national forest, it’s still a failing grade.

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I missed Question Four because I marked "more matches" instead of "water" as something to have on hand when lighting fireworks. I figured you wouldn’t need the water if you couldn’t get the damn thing lit in the first place. So.

Question 10 was also a miss. "What part of your body should be over a firework while lighting it?" There was no option for "It depends on how drunk you are or if you belong to a fraternity." So I left that one blank. Miss.

But it was Question Seven that gave me the biggest problem. It read, "When may small children handle and light fireworks?"

I had to think about that one, which of course was the wrong thing to do. It was an iffy question. When it comes to small children, are we talking physical size or emotional state?

If it’s physical size, then the correct answer should be, "Only when combustible material, including concrete, is further away than 25 miles." The real answer turned out to be "Never."

But if we’re talking emotional size with fireworks, then a small child is any male under the age of 150. That’s because males — not girls or women — account for the vast majority of fires and injuries caused every year by fireworks.

The average male — and by this I mean any male that isn’t currently dead — cuts his maturity level in half just by looking at a fireworks stand. If he goes inside one, his maturity disappears altogether.

Before you use fireworks this season, go to the National Council on Fireworks Safety and take the test. If you pass, good luck.

And please do not shoot off any wiener dogs without due precautions.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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