To all Midlothian Community Members:
As we observe a long holiday weekend, I want to stress the importance of fireworks safety. Parades, picnics, cornhole, barbeque, pools/lakes are as much a part of celebrating the United States Independence Day as are the time-honored fireworks displays. On Tuesday evening, our police department posted a statement on Facebook, punctuated with humor, regarding our intent to be present in our neighborhoods with additional staff to enforce Midlothian’s City Ordinance (2016-03), banning the use of fireworks within the city limits. The post itself appears to be well received by most of the community. Today, I want to emphasize the dangerously dry conditions that exist in our community. Conditions exist that could lead to significant damage to homes, commercial property, and threaten the lives of community members, their pets, and livestock.
The Ellis County Commissioners Court also issued a 90-day burn ban earlier this week due to the hazardous conditions. This does not ban the use of fireworks outside the city limits; however, I would encourage our neighbors to strongly consider the use of fireworks given our lack of rain and extremely dry conditions.
I personally witnessed nearly two acres of land burn and encroach upon a home in similarly dry conditions before the fire department could respond. Caring neighbors were trying to use their own water hoses to fight this frightening fire. However, as in most cases in the neighborhoods on the outskirts of town, where lots are large, few citizens have several hundred feet of water hose. Remember the City of Midlothian spans over 65 square miles with three fire stations strategically placed. I anticipate this will be a busy weekend for the Midlothian Fire Department. They have already responded to multiple grass fires believed to be started by a discarded cigarette.
One point I want to emphasize is that the City ordinance prohibiting fireworks in the city limits, which was passed in 2016, was never designed to take freedom away, but to regulate behavior in order to keep our community safe. There are citizens and community members that will simply ignore the danger to their neighbor’s property in order to celebrate and thus local government is obligated to enforce sometimes unpopular safety measures. It is really no different than enforcing the speed limits and other traffic laws that individuals ignore at great risk to others on the roadways. It simply isn’t possible to witness and engage every violation of law, but we are committed to giving our best effort to keep our community members safe.
Let me also say that our City Council and Midlothian’s staff care deeply for our community. Our first responders are committed to your safety. We are not here to ruin your weekend or celebration of the 4th of July. We do however, ask that you celebrate responsibly and with consideration of your neighbors.
Please join our community as we celebrate at our downtown parade on Saturday morning and at the community-sponsored fireworks show on Sunday evening, which is being provided by a professionally trained and licensed pyrotechnics company for the enjoyment of our citizens.
For more fireworks safety information from the Ellis County Fire Marshal, click on the link below.
My warmest wishes to you all,
Carl Smith, Chief of Police