Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify information about the public fireworks display on the Fourth of July.
The Fourth of July is quickly approaching and fireworks tents are popping up across the state, but local law enforcement is reminding citizens that fireworks are illegal within Sedalia city limits.
According to the Sedalia Code of Ordinances, “No person shall buy, sell, display or discharge any firecrackers, cannon crackers, aerial bombs, torpedoes, rockets, Roman candles, flares, or fireworks of any kind or description or any pyrotechnic material within the city.”
Sedalia Police Department Cmdr. Larry Ward told the Democrat last week that SPD officers respond to hundreds of time-consuming calls related to fireworks each year.
“Every year we get hundreds of fireworks calls that officers have to respond to,” Ward said. “They’re illegal to possess within the city limits, to fire them off or possess them. If you buy them in the county you can have them in your vehicle (as you travel to your destination). … We would strongly recommend that if you spend a significant amount of money on fireworks, take them somewhere you can legally shoot them, keep us from confiscating fireworks people pay a significant amount for.”
Ward said fireworks-related calls increase the week before and continue the week after tents set up shop in Pettis County, and he thinks that most residents in violation just don’t realize fireworks are illegal in Sedalia. Those tents may confuse some citizens who say that if fireworks tents are in Sedalia then fireworks must be legal, but all those tents are legally set up in the county, just feet from city limit signs. Fireworks are legal to possess and use in Pettis County.
“Parents need to make sure their kids are setting them off somewhere lawful. The (Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce hosts) a nice fireworks display at the (Missouri State) fairgrounds (on the Fourth of July),” Ward suggested as an alternative. “We’re asking for the cooperation of the community to follow the ordinance. We could be spending that time doing better things for the community rather than chasing every fireworks call that comes in.
“… Parents should supervise any use of fireworks and please use them outside of city limits where they are legal to discharge. We have injuries here every year with people using fireworks without supervision or under the influence of alcohol or other substances.”
Ward added that by abiding by local ordinances and not shooting fireworks in the city, citizens can avoid a $109 fine and confiscation of their fireworks.
He also added that people should be mindful that fireworks can cause some people emotional distress, such as veterans.
In previous years, Sedalia Fire Department officials have told the Democrat that using “basic common sense” is one of the best guidelines to use when utilizing fireworks where it is legal to do so.
For those citizens who will be celebrating Independence Day where fireworks are legal to shoot, the American Pyrotechnics Association recommends following these guidelines when using fireworks:
• Always read and follow the directions on the label.
• Always have an adult present when handling fireworks.
• Use fireworks outdoors in a safe, non-wooden area.
• Having a working garden hose or bucket of water handy.
• Light only one firework at a time.
• Never re-ignite a firework that doesn’t light the first time or one that has finished its display.
• Don’t throw fireworks at another person.
• Keep pets indoors and away from fireworks.
• Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
• Keep spectators at a safe distance.