After months of discussions about loosening Wichita’s strict fireworks laws, City Council members on Tuesday backed an ordinance that tightens the rules.
City Council members had considered for months easing restrictions on full-power fireworks, but tabled the issue in March to get more feedback from constituents. After input from their District Advisory Boards, council members decided instead to go in the opposite direction.
The new ordinance essentially maintains the current law, allowing only the sale and use of fireworks with sparks under 6 feet. It shortens use times by a few hours -- starting at 10 a.m., instead of at 6 a.m., and ending at midnight -- and sets a fine of $250 for most violations.
Organizations, often nonprofits and charities, that run fireworks tents will need a $1,500 sales permit, which will help pay for increased enforcement. The city will send 22 teams of firefighter-police officer pairs to patrol areas and enforce the ordinance.
Mayor Jeff Longwell said few, if any, citations have been written in the past.
“I think this is a good starting place to try and control what’s been getting out of hand for years and years and years and still allow people to celebrate," he said during Tuesday's meeting.
The ordinance will also:
- Maintain sale and use dates of June 27 through July 5
- Make adults responsible for juveniles who violate the ordinance
- Make property owners/occupants responsible for violations
- Use funds from sales permits to pay for enhancements to the city's public fireworks display
The ordinance still needs to go up for a second reading before being adopted. Longwell said the new law probably won't be perfect at the start, but suggested the council review the ordinance every year.