Some Wichitans call for tougher ordinance on fireworks

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- In the past few years, each time the Fourth of July has rolled around, Janice Brecht says the booms from illegal fireworks have broken the quiet in her southwest Wichita neighborhood.

She says those noises are nerve-wracking to hear and they spark concerns about fires.

"I just don't like it going on over our house," Brecht said.

She says last year, she called the Sedgwick County fireworks complaint hotline for the first time. But she says she got the impression that, given the current ordinance, there wasn't much that could be done.

"If they could change that ordinance, I would love it," Brecht said.

Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp admits the ordinance has been around for quite awhile and presents some challenges.

"The way the ordinance is written, it is very difficult to enforce because we need to see them in possession of illegal fireworks and using them," Crisp said.

Illegal fireworks include those that shoot into the air more than six feet and those that float in the air. Because other nearby cities have such different ordinances in place, Crisp says people can easily access illegal fireworks and bring them back into Wichita city limits.

He says he's hoping to hear from more community members, like Brecht, who have suggestions about the current ordinance that is on the books.

"If we need to do something different, we want your opinion to be heard and we want your opinion to be known," Crisp said.

He says they've set up an online survey to gather those opinions.

"We are very interested in getting citizens engaged in this conversation," Crisp said.

While the survey won't trigger any changes this year, Brecht is hopeful it could make a difference in enforcement in the future.

"I would like to see more of a presence," Brecht said.

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