On fireworks, Wichita is out of step with most regional peers

Though one fireworks injury or burned mobile home is one too many, this year’s Independence Day seemed safer and smoother than many in Wichita and Sedgwick County. The nonemergency phone line for fireworks complaints worked as intended, handling 490 calls Thursday night and avoiding the past situation in which 911 callers reporting serious emergencies encountered busy signals. The injuries reported this year were few and mostly minor. And thank goodness for the hard work of firefighters and other emergency responders. But the sky over Wichita on Thursday night was ablaze with evidence of lawbreaking, specifically the ban on anything that shoots projectiles more than 6 feet into the air. And Wichita is out of step with most of its regional urban peers on the issue. Fireworks are banned in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Des Moines, Little Rock and Kansas City, Mo., though Omaha lifted its ban two years ago. Oklahoma City Fire Department Deputy Chief Kellie Sawyers recently said: “They’re dangerous, they cause injuries, they can cause property destruction and have been illegal in Oklahoma City for over 30 years.” Does Wichita’s fireworks ordinance work if citizens treat it like a joke?