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Old 02-10-2018, 12:49   #1
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How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

I have expired flares that have to be disposed of anyway, so I would like to test them to familiarize myself with how they operate.

How can I do that legally and without setting off a false alarm?
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Old 02-10-2018, 13:17   #2
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

You have to contact the coast guard, and probably harbor patrol, but definately the CG.
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Old 02-10-2018, 13:23   #3
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

I'm going to jam them into a gopher hole and try to piss off the little bastards who are destroying my garden.

Seriously.
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Old 02-10-2018, 13:48   #4
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

I'm pretty sure it's legal to fire them at my neighbor's house.
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Old 02-10-2018, 14:02   #5
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

https://americanboating.org/flares.asp

Many municipal Fire Departments will take them.
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Old 02-10-2018, 14:14   #6
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

Burn barrel. They burn just ducky.
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Old 02-10-2018, 15:00   #7
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

Most USCG stations have an annual test day where you may set off any flares you wish. They will also dispose of then for you. Just call

In Antigua, ABSCAR will take your flares.

BTW, most flares will continue to be functional long after ther expiration date. We have all of ours stored in food prep vacuum heat sealed bags.
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Old 02-10-2018, 19:32   #8
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

Local USCG or Power Squadron should be able to help you out. Some folks have gone to local quarries, so the flare is below ground level. Some places folks just shoot them off on the 4th of July or other holidays--away from the water of course.

Or of there's a Safety At Sea seminar...they shoot off live pyros when they can.

Properly stored, pyros will go well past their expiration date, so it pays to store them properly and then keep them as backups. Once you have actually shot them off, you will lose all respect for the 12g. nonsense, almost all respect for the hand-held meteors, and you'll begin to appreciate the extortionate prices of SOLAS parachute flares.

The standard Olin stuff at the chandlery, sadly, is a feeble second to what you can buy at less than half the price from any fireworks vendor.
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Old 02-10-2018, 20:30   #9
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

Keep some but keep them separate from your official ones...have heard stories of authorities not liking old ones even if you have enough new ones...but they still work long after the expiration and why not have extras.

Legally...no you can't shoot them off but 4th of july, many harbors have so many things going off, no one will be able to tell the difference.
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Old 02-10-2018, 20:37   #10
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

The CG, CG Auxiliary and Power Squadron will no longer accept old flares. Neither will most fire stations including mine (although there are a few exceptions). Getting rid of flares today takes considerable effort.

Disposal of Flares / Pyrotechnics

https://siriussignal.com/kicking-fla...-problem-road/

It's just as well the 19th century flare is headed for the history books. Flares are close to useless in marine distress situations. If more than three or so miles away, people mistake them for lights. And they don't last long enough to get a response. Even a professional crew on the California didn't realize the nearby Titanic was firing distress rockets so they let the Captain sleep.

The disposal problem can only get worse. So when your flares expire don't buy new ones.

Carry an EPIRB or InReach (or both), a good flashlight and a VHF handheld radio in case the main radio fails. For when you are inspected, carry the approved orange distress flag with black square and black circle and one of the new CG approved electronic flares.
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Old 02-10-2018, 21:50   #11
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

Set them off and throw them into a metal bucket of water, once going they will continue to burn until all the pyro is burnt.
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Old 03-10-2018, 06:38   #12
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

Another option is to get your yacht club or marina to sponsor a flare shoot day. Much easier to notify the CG once for a bunch of people. They should know who else needs to be contacted, and may even do that themselves.

And no, in the US, the CG, CG Auxiliary or PS no longer accept used flares, unless there's a rogue member who has some other use for them. Some fire stations still do, but fewer all the time. Some police departments also have a way to get rid of old ammo, and might take them, but again that's rare.

There are now several companies making a "SOS" light that's USCG approved to replace the pyro for night distress signaling.

I suspect that will be the way of the future. Don't buy stock in those companies whose business model depends on selling us a package of overpriced pyro every few years! Apologies in advance to any employees, but I won't shed a tear if they go bankrupt.
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Old 03-10-2018, 06:52   #13
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

This winter, I launched 12g meteor flares into the forest. Should be legal if you're far enough from navigable water that it couldn't be confused with a distress signal. I waited for snow cover to minimize the wildfire risk.

The 7 flares were 10 years old. 1 misfired, one ignited correctly, 5 launched but did not ignite.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:01   #14
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

Some while ago we sent an inquiry to the St. Pete coast guard concerning this matter. Our plan was to use our out of date aerial flares for a training exercise, to be fired from the back of the boat while anchored in a relatively isolated area of Tampa Bay. The following is the response we received:

Quote:
Good afternoon,

I received your letter the other day asking about proper protocol for
conducting training with meteor flares. All the measures that you mentioned in your letter are prudent and appropriate. By notifying us 24 hours or more prior to the evolution, we will release the broadcast for you.

In order to release the message, please contact the Sector St. Petersburg Command Center at (727) 824-7506 and provide the following information:

Type and amount of ordinance you will be testing including color
Location where you will be expending the ordinance
Time duration
Your name and a reliable phone number (preferably two)

On behalf of the Coast Guard, I greatly appreciate you contacting us to
confirm your procedures. By talking with us now, you have potentially saved a significant amount of resources that would otherwise responded to this incident.

If you have any other question or concern, please contact the Command
Center.

Respectfully,
LT Michael Persun
Sector St. Petersburg Command Center
P: (727) 824-7506
I believe the foregoing would apply to any locale where flares can be discharged with relative safety to property and wildlife.

FWIW...
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Old 03-10-2018, 09:32   #15
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Re: How can I legally set off flares for test purposes?

First....Throw a crew member overboard.
Then you can legally fire the flares.


Or...Wait until July 4.
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