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4th of July Fireworks Safety Information

Post Date:06/28/2017 12:00 PM

Every year, fireworks cause an estimated 33,000 fires, 80 injuries or deaths, and $35 million dollars in property damage across the country. The City of Appleton and the Fox Valley have been spared significant damage and loss from the use of fireworks. To stay on the right course, we’d like to share information regarding firework questions we are frequently asked by citizens.

What fireworks do not require a permit?

The following is a list of “non-permit required” fireworks— sparklers, stationary cones and fountains, snakes, smoke bombs, caps, noisemakers and confetti poppers. There is no age restriction on the sale, possession or use of these devices. These are legal in the City of Appleton.

What does it mean when there is a permit required?

There are some fireworks considered “permit required” fireworks. These fireworks include roman candles, firecrackers, bottle rockets and mortars. Anything that explodes, moves along the ground or leaves the ground, or spins fall under this heading. A permit is required for these fireworks.

To obtain a permit, there is a formal process that needs to be followed. Due to state statutes and municipal codes, these permits are given on a limited basis and difficult to get. The Fire Department, with the signature approval of the Fire Chief and Mayor, has given permits for events such as the Civic Celebration at Memorial Park each year, sponsored by the Appleton Area Jaycees and Festival Foods.

Although there is an application process available for the purchase of restricted—“permit required” fireworks, it has been past history of the City of Appleton to only issue these permits to specific groups for specific special events.

What is the permit actually for?

Once a permit is obtained, restricted fireworks may legally be purchased, possessed and used.  Permits may only be issued by a mayor, village president, town chair, or municipal official or employee. The city, village or town representative authorizes specific fireworks to be shot off, at a specific location and on a specific date.

Permits issued or sold by the vendors themselves are not valid.

What are the penalties for violating fireworks laws in Appleton?

Answer: Shooting off illegal fireworks can cost up to $1,000 per violation under State law. (Note: Each firework may be a violation.) Under City ordinances, violations for selling or discharging illegal fireworks is $389.50. Fines for possession of illegal fireworks are $263.50.

What is an example of illegal fireworks?

Cherry bombs, M-80s, firecrackers, Roman candles, cake-style, mortar-style and bottle rockets are examples of illegal fireworks. Never buy these fireworks. These items are extremely dangerous.

Legal fireworks conform to standards. Labels must include the name of the item, the manufacturer or distributor name, easy to read cautionary labeling and instructions for proper use. Always read and follow the instructions. 

Is transporting legal fireworks dangerous?

Although the transportation hazard of these is rated “minimum” by the Department of Transportation (DOT), all fireworks are classified as “explosives” for transportation purposes because of the chemical composition contained in the fireworks devices. 

How should I store legal fireworks? 

Answer: Do not buy more fireworks than you plan to use. Keep them cool and dry. Keep them away from young children and ignition sources. Never smoke where fireworks are kept.

What safety tips should I keep in mind? 

  • Buy only legal, non-permit required fireworks from reliable sellers.
  • Use common sense. Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix.
  • Use only outdoors—keep away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Have water handy (a bucket or water hose).
  • Never light fireworks off in glass or combustible containers. Make sure to light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves or flammable materials.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks.
  • Make sure spectators are a safe distance away (at least 50 feet).
  • Keep your body, hands and head away from the fireworks. Light them one at a time and step back quickly.
  • The person lighting the fireworks should wear eye protection.
  • Never make homemade fireworks. Never alter or combine fireworks.
  • When finished, soak used fireworks in a bucket of water before putting them in the trash.

Choose Safety 

Remember fireworks are not toys. Although they may be enjoyable to adults and children, fireworks can be dangerous.

Parents: Remember there is no age requirement to purchase fireworks. Please have open communication regarding expectations of children not purchasing fireworks or using fireworks on their own.The best thing to do to protect your loved ones and property is to not use fireworks at home. Attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting of fireworks to the professionals.

If you do decide to use fireworks, remember the key is responsibility, accountability and common sense.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact these members of our public safety agencies. They are willing to help with any questions or issues you may have. 

  • Sergeant Dave Lund, Police Department (920) 832-5509
  • Battalion Chief Joseph Strauss, Fire Department (920) 832-3934
  • Battalion Chief Jeffrey Felauer, Fire Department (920) 832-5860
  • Fire Protection Engineer Steve Patterson, Fire Department 832-5816

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