Residents want fireworks, county survey shows

Most Sedgwick County residents who responded to a recent survey said they want to repeal a 1978 law that bans fireworks in unincorporated areas.

At a meeting Tuesday of the County Commission and staff, county Fire Marshal Tim Millspaugh presented results of the survey. It was conducted online and with postcards distributed at a public meeting earlier this month.

Out of 118 people who responded online, 83 percent said they want the county to drop all regulation of fireworks and defer to state law, which allows most types of consumer fireworks. Seventy-nine percent of those who completed postcard surveys said they prefer the state law.

"It's not scientific by any means," Millspaugh said of the survey. "But it is data input."

The Dec. 1 public meeting at the Sedgwick County Zoo also was "a good listening opportunity," Millspaugh said. Most residents at that meeting told commissioners they wanted the fireworks ban lifted.

In the survey, less than 20 percent of respondents said the county should keep its current law, which makes it a crime to use or possess fireworks in unincorporated areas.

Even fewer — 6 percent of online respondents and 3 percent of written ones — favored allowing the use of limited types of fireworks, such as the low-yield varieties permitted in Wichita.

Bob Lamke, the county's director of public safety, said he plans to present several options to commissioners at a meeting in January. Options could include limiting the number of days people can discharge fireworks, stipulating that fireworks not be used near livestock areas or limiting fireworks during extremely dry conditions.

Commissioners also will have to decide whether to allow the sales of fireworks, Lamke said.

"People just want to know," he said. "If you choose to make a change, it would be best to get some resolution in January."

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