Retired Wichita firefighter on proposed fireworks ordinance: ‘You are increasing the risk’

Fireworks (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council is expected to vote on a proposed change to the city’s current fireworks ordinance on Tuesday.

“The proposed ordinance change is basically to mirror state law which with state law the only thing that is not allowed when we are talking about consumer fireworks is bottle rockets,” said Wichita’s acting Fire Marshal Stuart Bevis.

The current ordinance says in part: Fireworks shall be classified as Class C and/or 1.4G; and shall emit a shower of sparks no more than 6 feet (1,828.8 mm) in any direction; and shall not be labeled as emitting flaming balls.

The proposed ordinance states the following:

  • Consistent with state law, bottle rockets will be banned in the City.
  • Sky lanterns will be banned within the city. State law currently allows sky lanterns.
  • Roman candles and fireworks that emit sparks over 6 feet will be permitted as allowed by
    state statutes.
  • Wichita Fire Department will no longer be required to print a list of approved fireworks.
  • Wichita Fire Department will continue to specify the period of time that fireworks may
    be discharged and have the authority to ban the discharge of fireworks for safety reasons.

One Wichita resident who is also a retired firefighter said he has concerns about the proposed ordinance.

“There’s going to be more people playing with fire and explosives so the risk goes up with it. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but statistics show that it probably will,” said Marc Haynes.

Bevis said it’s possible people in Wichita will get their hands on more fireworks, however it doesn’t mean the danger will increase.

“They are all Class C fireworks or 1.4G fireworks. They are all the same powder just some go 100 feet in the air and some go 6 feet in the air,” Bevis said. “We worry about injuries and injuries can happen with mortars, which are our number one causes of injuries, but so are sparklers.”

Haynes said while safety is a concern, he is also worried about the fireworks being an overall disturbance.

“You have old people that are scared when their houses are rattling from the explosions. You have veterans that they have probably heard enough in their life to last them a life time. You have families that have young children that they are trying to put to bed and then boom,” Haynes said. “I understand the celebration. I have no problem celebrating Independence Day, you know, but I mean really, do it within reason.”

“I’m sure there are other people that are saying it’s the Fourth of July I want to celebrate and as a fire official it’s my job to just try to enforce the ordinances the city puts in place the best we can,” Bevis said.

The Wichita Fire Department conducted a fireworks survey on Activate Wichita. About 576 people participated in the six question survey. The data indicated the following:

  • Fifty- two percent of the survey responses indicated that fireworks were an issue.
  • Thirty- six percent responded that it was important or very important that Wichita’s statutes
    match those of surrounding communities; and
  • Forty- five percent felt the City should reduce restrictions on state-approved fireworks.
  • Eighteen percent supported implementation of a fireworks ban.

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