Greeting the new year promises to be much quieter in West Columbia.
City Council took the first step Tuesday toward extinguishing private fireworks to celebrate holidays such as New Year's and July 4.
It would be the first ban on private use of fireworks in the Columbia area.
West Columbia leaders say the tradition is outdated and increasingly is becoming a nuisance and a fire hazard.
Fireworks can be so loud that their noise is akin to "starting World War III," Mayor Bobby Horton said.
City firefighters put out four small blazes caused by fireworks in midsummer, he said.
The proposal would bar use - but not sale and possession - of the dazzlers in the community of 13,500 people except at displays approved by city officials.
Sparklers could still be used since they are quiet. So could pistol caps that make minor noise.
The ban won initial council approval on an 8-to-1 vote.
Councilman B.J. Unthank, the sole opponent, said the proposal is overkill.
Fireworks sometimes are disruptive, but they create so much joy that it's worth tolerating occasional problems, he said.
"It's a shame to do away with it," Unthank said. "It's a little much to bar them outright."
But Horton said fireworks at night often create tensions between neighbors enjoying the displays and those who are trying to sleep or unnerved by the noise.
A crackdown is needed as private displays become more elaborate and threaten to get out of hand, he said.
"Our target is to stop the excesses," Horton said.
Final adoption of the ban is slated for Dec. 1, a month before 2010 arrives.