Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Firefighters in Wichita were on high alert Wednesday night, making sure everybody was staying safe with their Independence Day celebrations.
Fireworks have been blamed for some Wichita house fires this week and firefighters hoped to prevent more by making sure those celebrating knew which fireworks were okay and which ones were illegal.
"It is a time for celebration and to have a good time with your family and friends, but the main thing is being safe," said Wichita Fire Lt. Jose Ocadiz.
Safety is what has some firefighters on patrol and others ready to respond to complaints about fireworks. Ocadiz said the fire department still wanted everybody to have fun.
"We don't want anybody to think that we're just going out and trying to ruin your celebration, but it's mostly about the safety of your neighborhood, your family members and even just the community inside the city of Wichita," he said.
For the most part, Ocadiz said firefighters would just make sure those shooting illegal fireworks stopped and that they were aware their fireworks were illegal. In some cases, though, those with illegal fireworks could have faced fines or had their fireworks taken away.
"We do have a large number of fires that occur from illegal fireworks and that is why the city of Wichita does not allow anything that goes above six feet to be fired off inside the city limits," Ocadiz said.
In order to keep fireworks-related complaints from tying up the 911 system, Sedgwick County has established a non-emergency number for nuisance calls. That number is (316) 210-1011.
Chad Smith, who was celebrating in northeast Wichita with his family, had no problem having a fun Independence Day celebration with legal fireworks.
"A lot of what we do is shoot off a lot of the smaller things because we have a lot of children around," he said. "So, we shoot off a lot of the sparklers and then we also have fountains and we keep the ground wet around a lot of the fireworks that we use."
Smith said, with little ones around, his focus has to be on making sure his celebration is safe.
"We keep an adult to each child that's shooting off fireworks, so we make sure that there's somebody there for each one," Smith said.