HOUSTON Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Tuesday signed an order banning the sale or use of any fireworks in unincorporated parts of the county.

Because all 34 municipalities in the county already have bans on the sale or use of fireworks, Emmett s order means fireworks are illegal everywhere in Harris County.

All of us on Commissioners Court recognize public safety as our top responsibility, Emmett said Tuesday. I think everyone, from Fire Marshal Mike Montgomery and local fire officials to representatives of the fireworks industry and the general public at large, understands the overwhelming need to take serious preventive action to avert disastrous wildfires from threatening our property, our homes and our families.

The Harris County Commissioners Court ratified the order moments after it was issued and sent it on to Gov. Rick Perry. With Perry s approval, the order will remain in effect until it s rescinded by Emmett.

The only exception to the fireworks ban is for public displays conducted by a person with a valid pyrotechnic operator s license or valid pyrotechnics special effects operator s license. That means city-sponsored fireworks displays can go on as scheduled.

Violators of the ban could face a fine of $1,000 and/or 180 days in jail.

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