Fire Department Rips Into Fireworks Vendor

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The Fort Myers Beach Fire Department was not too happy with 4th of July fireworks vendor Exposhows after several issues occurred leading up to the 20-minute show Monday night. Here’s what happened.

Fire officials shared a list of 9 issues that had them concerned enough to notify town manager Roger Hernstadt, including having racks of fireworks originally pointed toward the beach and crowds.

 

Here’s the full list of issues fire officials shared with the town:
1 – They did not call us when they were enroute to the district, or when they entered the district. Luckily, our units and inspector were in the area, and able to get to Lynn Hall Park for the off load of the fireworks. The contract between the town and the vendor specifically states that “Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District will be advised of the ETA of the truck and contacted when truck arrives on-site.”
2 – When they setup the tubes they were left unsecured overnight on the end of the pier. The tubes had a tarp covering them from the rain, however this was removed by occupants causing the tubes to fill up with water.
3 – The fire extinguishers that they brought had just expired (June, 2022), and one needed to be recharged. As a last minute replacement they purchased a few 2A10BC fire extinguishers to have onsite.
4 – They did not keep a clean space during setup.
5 – They had originally setup the racks pointing towards the beach and the crowds. This was changed.
6 – They did not have a shooters shack for protection, so they were moved further down the pier.
7 – They did not complete the wiring for all the explosives. It is my understanding they had only about 70% completed. However, we found out there were some explosives in the tubes, that never got wired, and some that never ignited. The fireworks that were not wired, were put under the pier structure and covered with sheetrock.
8 – They did not have an adequate crew to complete the job, and overall not prepared for the day. As a result, the setup was not completed.
9 – As of approximately 9:00 a.m. the morning after, there were still tubes/racks at the end of the pier, and the area had not been cleaned up.

The town of Fort Myers Beach paid $30,000 to Exposhows for the fireworks. The contract was piggybacked onto the 4th of July Exposhows contract with Marco Island, most likely to save money. The Marco contract with Exposhows was $65,000.

We reached out to David MacCormick at Exposhows, whose name is on the contract with Fort Myers Beach, by phone and by e-mail, for comment. We never heard back. His proposal to the town stated: “Over 1,100 breaking aerial shells for your display. A 400 shell plus 2-minute finale follows a 19 minute main display lifting over 3 shells per minute.”

About the fire department’s concerns, Town Manager Roger Hernstadt said, “Staff is in the process of comparing the issues raised by FMBFCD to the specifications. Then staff will consult with the Town Attorney to obtain guidance if and how to apply any appropriate remedies. We anticipate a rebid to incorporate the FMBFCD criteria as agreement requirements in the future.”

Fire Chief Ron Martin told us the public was never in danger. He said if that was the case, the show never would have gone off.

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