Local ordinances and safety tips for a fun Fourth of July

By Corene Brisendine

In April, city commissioners changed a few city ordinances governing fireworks and Fourth of July celebrations.

Residents of Manhattan can no longer buy, sell or shoot fireworks commonly known as sky lanterns. These fireworks are small hot-air balloons, typically made of paper, that have a fire source underneath to make them rise. Commissioners agreed that while there is not statistical evidence that these lanterns cause more fires than any other fireworks,

it was in the best interest of the city to ban them. The ban was the direct result of a house burning down last year from a sky lantern landing on its roof.

Other fireworks banned by federal and state law include large reloadable shells, cherry bombs, aerial bombs, M-80 salutes, large firecrackers with more than 2 grains of powder and mail-order kits designed to build fireworks.

In addition to banning sky lanterns, commissioners also agreed the city manager has the power to cancel and reschedule fireworks displays to a later date if dry weather creates a greater risk of fires. This, too, was a direct response to one house catching fire last summer when the entire state of Kansas was in a severe drought.

Typically, residents are allowed to shoot off fireworks from 8 a.m. to midnight July 1-4.

Other banned uses of fireworks in the city include throwing fireworks at any person or vehicle and lighting fireworks in city streets. Though lighting fireworks in streets is prohibited, many residents ignore the law and shoot them off.

Police and fire officials told commissioners during work sessions last fall that it is impossible to catch everyone, and they limit patrols to the main streets used in town.

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