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Wichita Fire Department Urges Safety Ahead Of 4th Of July Weekend

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Updated July 5: Sedgwick County Emergency Communications reported receiving the following number of calls over the July 4th weekend:

Nuisance complaints to the non-emergency line:

  • 6:30 p.m., July 3, to 3 a.m., July 4 – 252 calls, compared to 145 in 2015
  • 6:30 p.m., July 4, to 3 a.m., July 5 – 378 calls, compared to 398 in 2015

911 calls:

  • Over the holiday, Emergency Communications answered an average of 2,600 calls per day, last year the agency answered an average of 1,908 calls per day.

Original story:

Officials with the Wichita Fire Department will be on the lookout for any illegal fireworks over the 4th of July weekend.

 

According to the city, on average, 45 people are injured by fireworks in the Wichita area each year, including children as young as 10 months old. 

City officials stress the danger of firing off small explosives, especially ones that are illegal, such as Roman candles and mortars.

“Our focus tends to be on those that cause the most injury and those tend to be the most common: fire crackers, sparklers, mortars,” says Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell. “And so those common celebration items are often problematic.”

Blackwell says his department will be on patrol and will also respond to complaints through a special hotline at 316-290-1011. 

“It is possible that citations are issued. And those have mandatory court appearances and fines as high as $2,500,” Blackwell says.

He says to only buy items from vendors within city limits in order to avoid any illegal fireworks—the general rule is to avoid anything that shoots farther than six feet in any direction. Blackwell's advice to anyone who uses approved fireworks is to find an open lot with level ground.

Residents outside of Wichita can check with their local municipality or with officials from Sedgwick County to find out which fireworks are allowed in their area.

Want to let the professionals do the work? Here’s a list of area of 4th of July events.

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Follow Sean Sandefur on Twitter @SeanSandefur

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.