ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — Fireworks are among many of the COVID-19 related shortages, but it’s not just disappointing for people looking to have their own 4th of July celebrations. It may cause funding issues for Volunteer Fire Departments.
Chris Issaacs is the Fire Chief over at Hampton Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Departments, he said the firework fundraisers account for about a third of their yearly budget. He said they saw this problem coming months ago but still struggled to find fireworks. “We’ve known about it since, really since last fireworks season. Last year’s sales were off the charts across the country. So the suppliers sold out. And then with Covid and the shipping issues from where all the things are shipped across seas, it delayed everything, so they couldn’t restock over the year.”
Those problems led to Issaacs seeking out other sources. “Our order that we placed we was gonna get 30% of what we ordered on the initial order, so at that point we had to find other suppliers and work with the suppliers we do have to buy other, different product than what we normally buy,” said Issaacs. “Our supplier has multiple offices throughout the country. So we was able to go to a different supplier, but its from the same company in Louisiana and was able to offset the shortages from our original supplier.”
The delays benefited the department in some ways, but set it back in others. “We’re delayed on setting up, as you can see our firework stand is basically empty at this time, it’s normally fully stocked. We delayed our shipment awaiting more containers of fireworks,” said Issaacs. “And it did pay off for us, we have notified yesterday that we were going to be getting additional fireworks from what our original order was, which makes us very happy.”
Even though it will likely set them back in funding, Issaacs is able to see the benefits. said Issaacs. “It hinders us on the amount of money we make on the fundraiser, but it forces us to get out with the community and do additional things for the community, which we feel will help bring the community together. So it is a win for everybody.”
The department is still waiting on its delivery, but plans to sell fireworks starting Monday, June 21.
The Gray Volunteer Fire Department echoed similar concerns. They said they only have 65 to 70% of their normal fireworks stock. They plan to have their fundraiser Sunday, June 20 through Monday, July 5.
Issaacs encouraged everyone to stop by the departments first and stop by early, that way you know you’ll get fireworks and keeping the money local. He said even with the shortage, you’ll probably still get a better deal at the fire departments.