Sedgwick County commissioners today approved the use — but not the sale — of fireworks in unincorporated areas.
The vote to repeal the county’s ban on fireworks use came after months of discussion, a large public hearing at the county zoo and a survey showing 77 percent of residents in favor.
County Fire Marshal Tim Millspaugh also favored legalizing fireworks use, saying it “will not cause any significant increase in fireworks-related fires or injuries.”
Fireworks are readily available in cities throughout Sedgwick County in the days leading up to the Fourth of July and widely used in incorporated and unincorporated areas.
The new rules will allow revelers to use any consumer-grade commercially available fireworks in the unincorporated county from July 1 to July 4 every year, and on the fifth when it is the legal holiday, as it is this year.
On Wednesday, commissioners heard from several fireworks businesses seeking a change that would allow them to sell fireworks in the unincorporated county.
However, commissioners put off consideration of that until they could get more information on the potential impact on churches and charities in small cities that rely on fireworks sales.
The motion to lift the ban on use passed 4-1.
After the meeting, Commissioner Kelly Parks explained that he cast the lone “no” vote primarily because he thinks that the county should allow sales of fireworks if it allows them to be used.
He pointed out that for many years, the rule of thumb for legally using fireworks has been “shoot them where you buy them.”
“That’s not going to be in effect anymore,” he said.