WFD recommends city remove 6-foot firework height limit, legalizing most consumer-grade products in city limits
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Believe it or not, the Fourth of July is less than two months away, and people are already making plans and saving up for those fireworks.
But this year, the Wichita Fire Department is hoping to convince the city to change its laws, making it much less strict on what you can legally shoot in city limits.
The Fourth of July is a cherished holiday for most Americans as we celebrate our freedom, and with it comes one of Matt Nichol's favorite things.
"I'm a big firework guy. I enjoy fireworks," said Nichols.
However, when Nichols moved into city limits, he was surprised to learn that he couldn't legally shoot anything that went higher than six measly feet.
"Living on the farm my entire life, you know, we've always had the ones shoot clear up in the sky," he said.
Jose Ocadiz with the Wichita Fire Department says soon, people like Nichols might finally get the green light to bring that to the city.
"We came up with the possibility of a two-phase process for the next couple of years. But the first phase that we just proposed is allowing aerial fireworks," said Ocadiz.
Ocadiz says the department put together a fireworks committee late last year that went to vendors, each district's advisory board, and the community to figure out if the city should make changes to the fireworks laws.
He says the committee considered every factor and all the input it got over the last several months and decided to recommend the city remove its six-foot height limit from July 1st through the 4th.
"With the proposed changes, this will allow us to follow the state statute, which will take our police officers and firefighters out of harm's way during the enforcement time of the current ordinance," said Ocadiz.
Even people like Kale Lowery, who aren't big on fireworks, think it's a good idea.
"I'm not a huge firework guy. I used to be scared when I was little," said Lowery. "I think allowing people to do it even if they're already doing it, I think just allowing it now, it's not really going to change much. And really, if anything, you'll allow the city to do more things if they're allowed to shoot those big fireworks off now."
Ocadiz says the department will present this recommendation to the City Council on Tuesday, and it will be up for a vote. If approved, the new law will also significantly increase the fines for violations like shooting after curfew to $1,000 for the first offense, $1,500 for the second offense, and $2,000 for each subsequent offense.