The annual 4th of July fireworks display that has annually been held at the Kiowa County Fairgrounds in Eads for more years than anyone can remember will not happen this year. According to the Kiowa County Fire Protection District there is no one in the department who is licensed or certified to operate the fireworks display since Terry Riley, a longtime licensed pyrotechnic engineer who lived in Eads, is no longer available.
Anymore, it has become difficult, expensive and time-consuming to obtain fireworks without a license and certification.
Kiowa County Fire Protection District director Russ Watson said in reference to the situation, “The decision was made to try an alternate way for us to get product. Unfortunately, the laws of transporting fireworks across state lines have become the hurdle we can’t get over. The fireworks are now considered unsafe fireworks to display as a safe and professional show. We would not be covered by insurance to shoot without a licensed technician. I’ve reached out to several people and was unsuccessful in getting anything moving forward or anyone successfully getting licensed. So, in short, the Eads firefighters are unable to shoot fireworks this year in a safe manner.”
Eads Fire Chief Jayce Negley informed the Independent that towns of Lamar and Granada, at least, recently both announced they will not be providing a fireworks show, either. Both cities cited the dry conditions as the reasons for the decision. The decision was evidently made before the Lamar area received 2 inches of rain last week.
The Town of Eads has historically purchased the fireworks for the display with the fire department collecting some donations to help out. Van Brown, Public Works Manager was not aware of the situation with the fireworks and was waiting to purchase the fireworks as usual, although he assumed there would not be fireworks this year when he didn’t hear from the fire department. “The cost of the annual fireworks show is approximately $4,000, but that has not been spent this year,” stated Brown.
Without a fireworks show this year one might then consider doing their own show on their street or in their backyards.
Brown verified that there is no Town ordinance that bans the shooting of fireworks by citizens but encourages everyone to stick to ground fireworks and not to purchase the big ones that are shot in the air. “After last year there was a conversation at the town council about passing an ordinance, but nothing came of it.”
Kiowa County Sheriff Forrest Frazee is concerned about the amount of large fireworks that were set off during the holiday a year ago. “As always, the Sheriff’s Department will be out patrolling but we are limited in numbers. I’d encourage everyone to enjoy Independence Day but to be considerate and thoughtful if shooting off fireworks.”
Watson provided some fireworks safety tips for readers:
Be aware of your surroundings even if you don’t have any aerial fir works.
If you do have aerial (mortar shells), please check for any obstructions above and around you.
For those actually igniting the fireworks, please be aware of objects and people in the area.
Keep a safe zone away from the igniting zone.
Be cautious of wind direction.
Last, please be responsible and safe.
For the spectators, please stay a safe distance away from the lighting area as some fireworks do not always function correctly. Be on high alert for young children that are enjoying the festivities. Help ensure the individuals igniting the fireworks are being responsible and safe.
Individuals driving around while families and friends are celebrating, please be on high alert for young children that may be in the roadway. Although it is not recommended for people to be in the street, this is a normal gathering place for firework displays, so please be respectful of these individuals and drive at low speeds.
Pet owners, please write your phone number on your dog’s collar just in case he/she gets spooked from all the commotion and booms. This will help make sure your families pet returns safely back to your home.
Everyone is hoping for a joyful and fun Independence Day, but this year you will have to come up with other plans if you are wanting to watch a fireworks show—those look to be few and far between.