Firefighters want more money in the sky

To ensure Silver City Day’s fireworks gives residents the biggest bang for the festival’s buck, local firefighters are talking about purchasing a firing board to eliminate a steep rental fee.

Gone are the days of lighting fireworks with a flare, instead, for safety purposes, light shows are wired and ignited from a remote area.

Silver City Days, running from May 3-8 this year, offers an array of food and shopping vendors, midway rides and carnival games from West Coast Amusements and plenty of other community events like Gyro Casino, the AM Ford Bocce Classic and the Trail Firefighters Silver City Days Parade.

“Everybody likes the fireworks more than anything,” said Ian McLeod, chair of the Trail Festival Society that puts on the annual event.

Unfortunately, in addition to being a source of entertainment, fireworks can be a hazard – hence the requirement to light them from a distance.

A firing board – which sends an electric surge to light fuses remotely – has been used for the past three years during Silver City Days, costing about $500 to rent the piece on each occasion.

“Instead of putting that money to rentals, in five shows it would pay for itself,” said Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue’s Lee DePellegrin, pointing to the $2,500 it costs to purchase a firing board.

Led by retired firefighter Doug Bentley, firefighter Clay Alderson has helped put on the beautiful explosions in the sky for the past 10 years, even when the show was started by hand.

“It’s unsafe because you have to get really close for the flare to light the firework off,” said Alderson. “Now we’re 20 to 30 feet away.”

The “apprentice” is in the process of getting his ticket to handle fireworks, a large job that involves about 15 firefighters digging in where the 80 fireworks will be launched from, running wires from each piece to the firing board and cleaning up after the show.