The Saline County Commission is looking at potential changes to fireworks laws.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Emergency Management Director Hannah Stambaugh and Planning and Zoning Director David Neal assembled multiple pages of fireworks codes along with comparisons of what other cities and communities allow as days/hours of discharge and fireworks stand license fees.
- Commissioners asked for public input:
Norman Mannel disagreed with any further restrictions on celebrations, saying he and many others had fought to preserve freedoms. He expressed alarm about actions that might turn this country “into a dictatorship”.
- Nikole Bird and her husband manage three firework tents “on Avenue B, Magnolia Road, and near Markley”. The Birds employee 20-30 individuals each season. She said she and her staff do the best they can to educate the public about the different firework days/hours of discharge in the different communities. She said that if the County were to change hours/days of discharge, it would only create more confusion. The Avenue B tent was inspected by the Salina Fire Department (who has a mutual aid pact with some of the rural fire departments), and she found herself having to comply both with the City’s and County’s requirements. Chad Pierce, who managed their Markley tent, noted that any reduction in hours would result in a decrease in tax revenues. He said he frequently shows individuals how to find the requirements for launching fireworks on Google and Facebook. Someone stated that “there will always be obnoxious people; a few should not limit the privileges of the many”. Later, as the discussion continued outside the meeting room, Bird said that she occasionally sells fireworks to individuals who defiantly say they have $100 at the ready in case law enforcement should issue a fine or confiscate fireworks.
In response to questions about the noise generated from “500 gram” fireworks described as “grenades, nuclear” artillery, “hypnotic and mind splitting” noise makers, Neal said that the State has adopted “safe and sane” statutes. An International Fire Code applies uniform standards that have been adopted by most States and local entities.
White asked how sales had been. Bird said sales were generally up, and that sales are generally best when the Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday. She also noted that the weather had been good.
Summing up the discussion, the Commission may revisit such topics as:
- Formally banning “floating lanterns” that are considered a hazard because they continue to have an open flame while launched.
- Requiring rural fire chiefs to complete the required inspections of county licensed firework stands.
- Determining if the City and County should jointly approve applications for “special fireworks” to be launched from the Salina County Club, which is within 100 feet of city limits.