Commissioners to vote on lifting fireworks ban

Fireworks on the Fourth of July may soon be legal in the unincorporated areas of Sedgwick County.

Commissioners said Tuesday they were ready to move ahead on a vote on whether to lift a fireworks ban that's been in effect since 1979 in unincorporated areas, outside city limits. They did not set a date for the vote.

Residents who responded to a survey from the county overwhelmingly said they wanted to be able to shoot fireworks on the Fourth of July. Residents who attended a December meeting with commissioners said the same.

The county presented residents with three options at that meeting:

* Keep fireworks illegal.

* Allow the sale and use of limited types of fireworks, something along the lines of Wichita's rules, which allow fireworks as long as they don't fly, explode or emit sparks more than 6 feet up or out.

* Defer to state law, which makes it legal for private property owners to use all consumer-grade fireworks except for bottle rockets, sky rockets and moon rockets.

Commissioner Dave Unruh told his colleagues on the board that he's in favor of allowing state-permitted fireworks. Most people in his district who contacted him were in favor of fireworks, he said.

Commissioner Tim Norton said he was comfortable allowing fireworks but doesn't want to allow their sale in the county.

Board chairman Kelly Parks said he would like to see fireworks allowed only on the Fourth of July instead of from July 1 to 4, a time frame that was part of fire marshal Tim Millspaugh's presentation Tuesday.

If the county approves fireworks, Millspaugh said the fire district would like to begin an educational campaign the week of June 20 with emphasis on the safe use of fireworks.