City expects to vote on fireworks ordinance

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Fireworks are a hot topic in Wichita. Some people like them, while others don’t. Fire officials reviewed the current ordinance, and are recommending the ordinance to align with state law.

The proposed ordinance would:

  • Ban bottle rockets (consistent with state law)
  • Ban sky lanterns (state law allows)
  • Allow roman candles or fireworks that emit sparks over six feet
  • Not require the Wichita Fire Department to print a list of approved fireworks
  • Require the fire department to specify the period of time fireworks are allowed to be set off

Right now, the city’s fireworks ordinance doesn’t allow fireworks that shoot more than six feet in any direction.

Fire officials said this is hard to enforce, while other neighboring communities allow those type of fireworks.

According to Chief Stuart Bevis, people buy the fireworks in other cities and bring them to Wichita.

“It ends up being I have to be able to prove you’re the person violating the ordinance so if I catch you with that illegal firework in your hand, I can probably prosecute that,” Bevis said. “But I have to be able to explain that and have documentation for the judge.”

Some members in the community believe the current ordinance is still dangerous, saying the city is out of control during July 4th celebrations.

“It was just like a war zone out there,” said Deb Kinkor, with the group Wichita for a Safe Fourth. “There were big fireworks. They would shake your house.”

Other concerns about the new changes include pets, veterans and fire safety.

According to fire officials, there were 24 fires this July 4th, which caused $250,000 in loss.

Bevis said almost all of the loss was due to improper disposal of fireworks, which could have been legal or illegal.

KSN spoke to one councilman, who said he still has lots of questions about the new ordinance.

Councilmember Bryan Frye said today’s meeting is only the start of the firework discussion.

“I don’t know that we’ll get to a decision tomorrow,” said Frye. “I think we’ll continue this conversation because I know there’s questions on both sides that need to be answered.”

The council meets at 9 a.m. KSN will follow this story and provide updates on air and online.