Revelers urged to use caution, keep fireworks at home

Friday, June 28, 2013
Laurie Sisk/Tribune photo Cindy Clements, right, assists Keagan Mishler and Kaleigh Grafke with their fireworks purchase at her stand at 2322 S. Main St. Clements, of Fort Scott, has been operating a fireworks stand for 32 years and said she generally sells about three semi-trucks full of fireworks each year. The most enjoyable part of operating a stand is seeing customers return year-after-year. "It's like a reunion sometimes," Clements said.

Independence Day will be celebrated with the usual fireworks display, but local officials are asking citizens not to bring their fireworks to the community fireworks event at Fort Scott Community College on July 4.

Fort Scott's City Manager Dave Martin told attendees at Thursday's Chamber of Commerce coffee that safety is the reason.

"The close proximity and concentration of people shooting fireworks. Also all the vehicles parked near, we don't want damage to them. People don't have safety precautions like a hose nearby, like you would have at home," Fort Scott Police Chief Travis Shelton told The Tribune.

Adding to the safety issue for a large group of people is the fact that it is dark at the community fireworks event.

Another safety concern is in years past, individuals have set off luminary fireworks that they have carried into the event. Because the luminaries are still burning as they float through they air, they pose a threat to nearby houses, Shelton said.

Fireworks can be sold and possessed after June 27 in Fort Scott's city limits, but they can only be shot off on July 4, said Fort Scott Fire Chief Paul Ballou.

Ballou stressed that the debris left from the discharge of the fireworks is the individual's responsibility.

He said before disposing the discharged fireworks in a trash can, individuals should spray them with a garden hose or put the debris in a bucket of water to make sure they are out completely.

"There is usually a spike of all kinds of fire on July 4," Ballou said.

Bourbon County Sheriff Ron Gray said individuals should be aware of their surroundings during fireworks events.

"For instance animals -- be conscious of dogs, cattle and horses. Stay away from dry areas and be aware of people's adjacent property," he said.

It is illegal to shoot fireworks under a vehicle or on a public roadway, he said.

Bottle rockets are illegal through the state of Kansas, as are M-80s and cherry bombs. The sheriff cautioned individuals against experimenting with creating their own fireworks.

"It's a fire hazard and you could be violating several laws," he said.

For those who want to take advantage of organized fireworks displays, Redfield will have its annual Independence Day celebration on June 29 at the city park and Uniontown will be celebrating on July 3 at its city park.