Washington County officials have been fielding numerous fireworks complaints in the last week.
According to a Washington County Communications reports, 28 complaints were filed between Friday, June 26, and Wednesday, July 1. Twelve of those complaints were reported Saturday, June 27.
“We respond to the call, and the officers try to locate who is setting them off, and a lot of it is up to the officer’s discretion,” said Washington Police Chief Jim Lester about how the department handles the complaints.
The first step when responding is to educate the person on the ordinance. Lester said there is a lot of confusion because state law allows fireworks to be launched from June 1-July 8, but each individual city, including Washington, has its own list of regulations.
Lester said it is difficult to charge anyone with launching fireworks unless the officers witness it themselves. However, citizen witnesses are helpful, too.
“We rely on people that make the complaints to say, ‘Yes, I saw this person do it, and yes, I am willing to go to court and testify that.’” he said. “If we speak with the complaining party and they have witnessed the act happen ... we’ll charge the person and let it work itself out in the court.
Lester said he was not aware of any repeat calls but there have been a number of calls where the officer could not locate the source due to travel time.
However, when officers locate the source, verbal warnings are usually given.
“Mainly the officers are responding and issuing warnings,” he said.
Can you legally set of fireworks in your community?
The following is a list of ordinances regarding fireworks:
According to its website, county residents may only explode fireworks between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. June 1-July 8. On July 4 and the Saturdays and Sundays immediately preceding, fireworks are permitted from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Ainsworth, Brighton, Crawfordsville
In accordance with state law, consumer-grade fireworks are legal in the three above towns if the operator is 18 years old or older. Fireworks can be launched from June 1-July 8.
Fireworks may be launched form July 1-7 from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. On July 4, they are permitted from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m., according to a post on the city’s Facebook page. To discharge fireworks outside of the permitted times, the operator must have prior approval from the city council.
Kalona, Riverside, Wellman
Fireworks are not allowed within the city limits of any of the above without a permit from city council and then must be “handled by a competent operator” according to city ordinances. Proof of insurance is also required to obtain a permit.
Fireworks are only permitted upon approval of a permit from the city council, according to the ordinance. The possession of wireworks is strictly prohibited but “does not include gold star-producing sparklers on wires that contain no magnesium or chlorate or perchlorate, flitter sparklers in paper tubes that do not exceed 1/8 inch in diameter, toy snakes that contain no mercury, or caps used in cap pistols.”
According to the city ordinance, consumer-grade fireworks are permitted July 3 from the hours of 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. and July 4 from the hours of 9 a.m. until 11 p.m.,
Fireworks are legal to be shot off from June 1-July 8 from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. An exception is granted on Thursday, July 4, and the Saturday and Sunday immediately following, July 6 and 7, in which case fireworks are legal from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m., according to city ordinance.
New London, Winfield
Fireworks are not allowed unless interested individuals have obtained a permit from city council, according to city ordinance.
Consumer-grade fireworks are permitted within the city from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. on July 4 and the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Display fireworks are not legal unless the operator receives a permit from city council, according to city ordinance.
Fireworks are only legal within city limits if the operator receives a permit from the city council, according to the ordinance.