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Fireworks dealer wants W.Va. law clarified

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An Arkansas fireworks dealer doing business in Triadelphia wants a Kanawha County judge to stop the West Virginia Fire Marshal's Office from enforcing its rule on the sale of fireworks to out-of-state buyers.

Fireworks World Inc. filed a request for a temporary restraining order last week, challenging the fire marshal's interpretation of state law. The Fire Marshal's Office advised the company in April that it can only sell fireworks to out of state businesses from its Triadelphia store, the suit claims.

The company contends that a regulation relied on by the fire marshal is in conflict with a state law and, therefore, unenforceable.

"In April, the [company] received a notification from the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office stating that its permit was valid for the wholesale of consumer fireworks to out of state residents. The notice went on to clarify that 'out of state resident' meant an out of state business," the complaint states.

"Specifically [state law] requires all sales of fireworks to be recorded and to include '. . . the name, address, city, state and zip code, business license number and tax department number of each purchase'," the complaint states.

However, the lawsuit says that, according to state law, fireworks sales to out-of-state residents is not prohibited.

". . . Nothing in this article shall be construed to prohibit any resident wholesaler, dealer or jobber to sell at wholesale such fireworks as are not herein prohibited or the sale of any kind of fireworks provided the same are to be shipped directly out of state . . .  ," state law reads in the complaint.

On June 27, the complaint states, officials from the company met with acting state fire marshal Tony Carrico to resolve the issues regarding sales of fireworks to out-of-state residents.

Carrico could not be reached for comment this week. An official in the licensing division of the Fire Marshal's Office said its rule provides that a business license must be recorded during out-of-state sales. Deputy State Fire Marshal Reed Cook said he wouldn't comment because of the pending litigation.

Lennie Foree, regional manager of Fireworks World, said in the court filing that the Triadelphia store has been inspected by the Fire Marshal's Office since it opened in 2005. Triadelphia, located in Ohio County, is close to the Ohio and Pennsylvania borders.

Neither Foree nor his attorney, Edward George of Charleston, returned phone calls for comment.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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