Despite new local restrictions on fireworks and dry conditions, this year’s Fourth of July season was business as usual for both city and county officials, who responded to 97 firework complaints July 1-5.
Frankfort Fire Chief Wallace Possich said the number of complaints was down from 127 in 2011 over the same period. This year, the city handled 80 calls over the five-day period – which is down compared to 107 last year – and the county responded to 17 complaints – up seven.
“Around town, several people ignored the illegality of the unapproved fireworks,” Possich said. “It’s hard to enforce, and there were some extensive usage, but it was still down some. It’s hard to be fireworks police.”
Last year, the state changed its regulations to allow for the sale and use of certain fireworks like bottle rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers. But after an influx of fireworks-related complaints last summer, the City Commission unanimously passed an ordinance that reinstates the state’s former regulations.
Residents can use approved items in city limits between 10 a.m. and midnight on July 3 and 4, the ordinance says. For all other days (except Memorial Day and New Year’s Eve, which will have extended hours), they can only be used between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Fiscal Court agreed to revisit discussion of a similar fireworks ban in the coming months.
City firefighters responded to three small fires that began because of residents using fireworks over the five-day period, Possich said. No major injuries were reported.
A small grass fire on Schenkel Lane was smoldering when emergency crews arrived on the scene July 4, and a second in Cloverdale burned up a 4-6 foot section of privacy fencing, Possich said. A third fire was reported on Locust Avenue July 5 when a Roman candle started a rubbish fire.
In contrast, officials reported few problems in the county, where residents were allowed to use larger fireworks. Chief Gary Watts said the fire department didn’t receive any calls for any fires or injuries related to fireworks.
He wasn’t surprised to hear city officials had a busy night.
“Once the state allowed it, there’s not a lot you’re going to do about it,” Watts said. “Best thing to do is enforce what you can and go on.”