The idea of lifting Kansas’ ban on bottle rockets turned out to be a dud, but the plan to allow year-round sales of fireworks is a burst of good news for Brent Aiello.
Aiello, owner of Aiello Fireworks in the southeast Kansas community of Moran, said the proposed reform would reduce the flow of Kansas consumers across the border into Missouri to buy fireworks. Year-round sales have been legal in Missouri for more than 20 years.
“We have Kansans going out of state and buying fireworks,” he said. “We should all want to help Kansas as much as possible.”
Sen. Caryn Tyson, a Parker Republican, lit the fuse on reform with a bill widening potential of fireworks sales by Kansas businesses while preserving city and county authority to regulate firework sales and usage. “It’s still local control,” she said.
Her bill would permit seasonal retailers, such as Aiello, to sell fireworks from June 20 to July 5, which would extend the holiday period in state law by one week. The bill would enable licensed merchants operating from fire-code-approved buildings to sell fireworks year-round.
Due to opposition from public safety officials, the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee on Thursday withdrew from the bill the piece lifting the statewide ban on bottle rockets.
“As a firefighter with over 30 years in the Kansas fire service, I can tell you that there was a drastic difference in the number of calls for service to our local fire department when the bottle rocket ban went into effect,” said Kevin Flory, president of the Kansas State Firefighters Association and a planner with Shawnee County Emergency Management.
Doug Jorgensen, the state fire marshal, said he shared concern about legalizing bottle rockets. The likely number of businesses interested in year-round sales of fireworks won’t substantially increase the agency’s enforcement duties, he said.
“Leaving the decision to the local municipalities and counties to determine if they want to allow the sale and discharge of consumer fireworks is appropriate,” Jorgensen said.
Cherise Tieben, city manager in Dodge City, said the local fire department responded to 15 fires caused by fireworks in the past three years. She opposed Senate Bill 362 because expansion of firework sales would result in more injuries, noise complaints and fires.