Wichita firefighters and law enforcement officers stuck to their promise of stepping up enforcement of fireworks violations this year.
Officials have written 133 citations this fireworks season, compared to nine in 2016 and none last year. Violators were fined $250, down from the previous $2500 penalty.
This was the first 4th of July to test the city’s slightly amended fireworks ordinance that maintained the ban on fireworks with sparks higher than 6 feet, but shortened the hours of use and increased the cost of a sales permit. Proceeds from those sales paid for 22 teams of off-duty firefighters and police officers to patrol the city in unmarked cars, issuing citations, which the fire department credits with an increase in enforcement.
Mayor Jeff Longwell said at Thursday's briefing that some residents have called for a full ban on fireworks, but that the updated ordinance was a compromise.
“We had some discussion [to] open them up completely, but overwhelmingly the people that we heard from, especially the people who came to the meetings and the district advisory board meetings, said please don’t open it up," he said. "They just simply wanted stronger enforcement and that’s what we did this year.”
Sedgwick County reports its non-emergency line received more than 1400 nuisance calls over the 4th of July holiday. Emergency communications received more than 10,500 calls.
Wesley Healthcare says there were a total of 25 fireworks-related injuries at its four campuses between June 27-July 4.p>