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Cities, counties may postpone all fireworks

POSTED June 28, 2012 5:13 p.m.

Note to readers: This story has been updated.

The Great Bend City Council is being asked to ban the discharge of all fireworks on the Fourth of July this year, with the possibility of allowing them at a time when the weather is more suitable. Barton County, as well as other cities and counties, are also looking at postponing the discharge of fireworks during the extreme heat and dry conditions.
Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano contacted city council members on Thursday, and they have scheduled a special meeting for 12:45 p.m. Friday at the City Council Chambers, 1205 Williams St. The meeting will be open to the public.
“I’ve never heard it done before,” the chief acknowledged. But others are following suit.
Great Bend Assistant City Administrator Dawn Jaeger said the purpose of Friday’s meeting will be “to discuss the postponement of all fireworks in the city limits until a date to be determined following a reduction of fire hazard due to dry conditions.” The proposed postponement includes the personal discharge of individual fireworks, as well as public displays, such as the one planned at the Expo Complex.
Barton County Commission Chairman Homer Kruckenberg told the Great Bend Tribune he has also asked for fireworks to be on Monday’s county agenda. County Administrator Richard Boeckman said a resolution postponing the discharge of fireworks in unincorporated areas of Barton County will be considered during the meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. Monday at the courthouse.
Jaeger noted that even if the discharge of fireworks is postponed, the sale of the items will still go on. But any time fireworks are not allowed — which is generally every day except July 4 — discharging them in the city can result in a $500 fine.
Russell County Commission held a special meeting Thursday afternoon and passed a resolution prohibiting the discharge of fireworks in the unincorporated areas of Russell County. The ban is in effect until rescinded. It does not prohibit the sale or possession of fireworks, and does not apply to areas within incorporated cities.
However, the Russell City Council has called a special meeting for 4:30 p.m. Friday in the City Council Chambers to discuss the possibility of a similar ban.
 The Russell County resolution states the ban was enacted “in an effort to protect the safety of persons and property ... and in response to high heat and drought conditions ...” The ban extends to regular, Class C fireworks; commercial/display Class B fireworks; and bottle rockets. It authorizes the Russell County Sheriff’s Department to seize fireworks possessed in violation of the resolution and to dispose of them “as outlined by the Kansas State Fire Marshal.”
Anyone convicted of violating the resolution shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 and/or subject to up to 30 days in jail. Anyone convicted shall also be ordered to pay restitution for any fire department services rendered as a result of the discharge of fireworks.
Napolitano said he had heard from at least half a dozen other fire chiefs who will be doing the same thing in their cities.


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