Cracking down on illegal fireworks - KCTV5

Cracking down on illegal fireworks

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As people get ready to enjoy their Fourth of July evening, one city wants to remind everyone that setting off fireworks is against city ordinance.

Independence Day events like the one at Corporate Woods in Overland Park always draw a big crowd and it's one of many big celebrations and fireworks shows being put on by cities around the metro.

With the holiday in full blow, many might expect to hear fireworks, as some continue the celebrating through the weekend. Police want to warn everyone of some legal consequences, before they light the fuse.

"Seems like the majority of accidents we see typically are with younger people, children who are allowed to do this kind of thing," said Battalion Chief Jeff Hoge with the Overland Park Fire Department.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 fires in 2011. Dozens were injured and more than $32 million in property was destroyed.

In Overland Park fireworks are illegal, and last year 26 people were arrested. Fireworks are also illegal in Kansas City, MO. Blue Springs, Lee's Summit, Independence and Raytown allow some fireworks with certain rules and guidelines.

Where fireworks are banned, people should expect officers to be out looking for those breaking the law.

"We are going to have additional officers on the streets, that are going to be patrolling the area where we get complaints of fireworks, and we'll be proactive in trying to enforce the fireworks laws," said Gary Mason with the Overland Park Police Department.

Thursday night Overland Park police said they will have officers dedicated strictly to dealing with the illegal fireworks complaints.

"First and foremost we want our officers interacting with the public in a positive way. Fireworks are completely illegal in the city of Overland Park and what we're telling our officers to do is enforce our ordinance. Certainly they have some discretion with that but, with the wind the way it is and conditions, it's just not safe to shoot them," said Capt. Rick Castillo.

Some cities do allow residents to shoot off certain fireworks, but authorities ask people to use caution because even those that seem harmless can have devastating consequences.

In 2011 sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for 34 percent of the emergency room fireworks injuries. Authorities said just because it might be legal, doesn't mean it's smart.

"I think it's a lapse of judgment on the parents' part," Hoge said.

Last year authorities said, with the drought, residents heeded the warnings, but with recent rains, firefighters are concerned people will get a false sense of safety.

"It's the idea that if an accident does occur, we certainly don't want you to burn down your neighbor's house," Hoge said.

Firefighters encourage people to attend live organized fireworks displays like the one at Corporate Woods in Overland Park.

Click here for more fireworks safety tips, and if you have a question about what's legal in your city, call your local fire department.

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