PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Local officials say a man who owns a series of fireworks stands set up along Panama City Beach, can no longer take advantage of a loophole in the State Fireworks Law. They've ordered him to stop selling illegal fireworks.
Monday night, NewsChannel 7 aired a story on how Extreme Fireworks was selling fireworks that fly or explode, which is prohibited in Florida. After the story hit the airwaves, Panama City Beach City officials handed out citations to nearly a dozen vendors.
Panama City Beach City Manager Mario Gisbert admits the City issued parking lot vendor tickets last week to extreme fireworks to set up 8 tents.
Gisbert said, "We don't typically query people on what they are selling or what they are doing we assume that they have follow state statutes and local municipal rules and regulations."
Kenneth Pate, manager of the TNT Fireworks in the Back Beach Road Walmart parking lot, says, "They've [Extreme Fireworks] put them up all up and down the beach. I don't know how it happened." He's frustrated that city officials were allowing Extreme to sell fireworks that fly and explode, illegal under Florida law.
Pate said, "They [Extreme Fireworks] found what they call a loophole in the law." That loophole allows the use of explosives to scare away pests from farms and fish hatcheries. On Monday, Extreme Fireworks employees showed NewsChannel 7 a form customers had to sign, saying they would sue the fireworks for agricultural purposes.
"I don't know of anyone that's visiting here that is using it for agricultural reasons; therefore, again in my mind and in my legal staff's mind they are perjuring themselves by executing that document.," Gisbert said.
City officials decided Tuesday to put a stop to it.
"We [Panama City Beach City Officials] gave him notice that he needed to stop that activity. I've notified him at this point, I just don't have the resources to shut him down," Gisbert explained.
The city has only permitted 2 other fireworks vendors and Pate is one of them.
Pate said, "Everything we have in here [TNT Fireworks] is registered with the state of Florida. If we have to do this they should have to do this."
City officials say they've learned from this and plan to ask perspective vendors more questions in the future. That could mean denying permits to those planning to use the fireworks loophole.
The owner of Extreme Fireworks has not responded to our calls to find out if he's pulled those illegal fireworks.