Today marks the 241st birthday of the United States, a day often celebrated with fireworks. Many in the area and around the nation consider fireworks a Fourth of July staple, but not all of the popular varieties are legal in St. Joseph city limits.
Although fireworks are legal in Missouri, ordinances can limit the type within city limits. St. Joseph Fire Inspector Steve Henrichson said only the smaller fireworks are technically legal in the city.
“Almost all of them that are out there are against city policy,” Henrichson said.
Sgt. Greg Gilpin, with the St. Joseph Police Department, says there could be consequences for someone caught with illegal fireworks.
“We try and warn the people that we can actually confiscate the fireworks if they’re not the right type. Anything that goes in the air and explodes is illegal in the city,” Gilpin said.
The police department said they expect a high number of calls today and they said they will try to respond in a timely manner, but it depends on the number of calls the department receives at that time.
“We expect a lot of fireworks calls and we certainly can’t respond individually to each and every one of them. It comes down to volume,” Gilpin said.
With the high number of fires that occurred over the weekend, Gilpin understands there could be more fires due to illegal fireworks.
“Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of rain here recently so the fire hazard part of it is pretty low, but it can still happen if a firework lands on a home,” Gilpin said. “People don’t realize many times how hot some of these fireworks burn. They burn at a very high temperature so they can certainly ignite a dry surface.”
The fireworks allowed within city limits must be below 1.4 G’s. Fireworks that fall under that category are sparklers, colored torches and fountains.