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RFPD talks fireworks safety

Neighborhood Resource Officer Tom Overland

As the Fourth of July approaches, the River Falls Police Department wants to remind River Falls residents about state and local fireworks laws and regulations. Neighborhood Resource Officer Tom Overland said the issue of fireworks safety is important.

"It involves everyone's safety," Overland said. "We don't want any children getting hurt. We don't want any property being destroyed."

Overland said the RFPD usually gets anywhere from 10-40 fireworks-related calls each year.

"People are going to shoot off fireworks regardless of what the ordinances or laws say," he said. Overland said the RFPD wants people to know that certain fireworks can only be purchased and used with a permit.

Fireworks that are illegal without a permit include firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets, and mortars. A good rule of thumb is that a permit is required if the device explodes or leaves the ground, Overland said. It's also illegal to sell any of these restricted fireworks to a resident of this state without a valid permit.

Overland said city of River Falls residents can apply for a permit at City Hall, but residents outside of River Falls would need to apply in their township. The permits are only valid in the city, village or town where the permits are issued.

Fireworks that are allowed without a permit include sparklers (36 inches or less), stationary cones and fountains, toy snakes, smoke bombs, caps, noisemakers, confetti poppers with less than ¼ grain of explosive mixture, and novelty devices that spin or move on the ground.

The fine for using restricted fireworks without a permit, or selling fireworks to someone without a permit is $124 for the first offense, and $313 any subsequent time.

Overland said in addition, the city's noise ordinance needs to be followed when shooting off any kind of fireworks that cause noise.

Safety tips

Overland offered the following fireworks safety tips:

• Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs and alcohol

• Never allow young children to handle fireworks

• Older children should only use them under close adult supervision

• Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear

• Never light any fireworks indoors

• Only use fireworks away from people, houses and flammable materials

• Only light one device at a time

• Maintain a safe distance after lighting

• Never ignite devices inside of a container

• Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks

• Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding

• Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire.

• Please pick up your fireworks after you've finished.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(651) 301-7849
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