To the Editor:
With summer fast approaching I thought it appropriate to remind county residents of the laws that govern the purchase, possession and use of fireworks in the State of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Chapter 167.10 regulates fireworks in the state. Local governments may have more restrictive ordinances, but not less restrictive.
In Wisconsin the only "fireworks" that a resident or non-resident may possess without a permit are sparklers, stationary cones, fountains, toy snakes, smoke bombs, caps, noisemakers and confetti poppers with less than 1/4 grain of explosive mixture. There is no age restriction on the sale, possession or use of these items as the statute does not classify them as fireworks. However, local ordinances may be more restrictive and may prohibit the sale or possession of these items.
The purchase, possession, or use of any other fireworks within the state is illegal without a permit. This includes firecrackers, roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars. If the device explodes or leaves the ground it is illegal to possess without a permit.
A permit to purchase, possess or use fireworks can only be issued by a town chairman, village president, mayor of a city or a designated municipal employee. The permit is only valid within the municipal boundaries of that official. The fireworks can only be possessed, or used within the jurisdiction of the issuing official. If you have a legal permit the statute allows travel directly from the place of purchase to the location that is indicated on the permit. If the fireworks are used at any other location then what is specified on the permit the use of it is illegal.
Permits issued by fireworks vendors are invalid. Pre-signed, printed, or stamped signatures on permits that are issued or sold by a vendor are not valid. This applies even if the municipality has approved the vendor to issue on their behalf, and the municipality receives a fee for the issuance by the vendor.
The permit must specify the kind and quantity of fireworks allowed, used or possessed. The quantity on the permit must be expressed by the number of each kind, not the dollar value.
The permit must specify the date of the permitted use. If multiple dates are asked for, each date requires a separate permit. The permit must also specify the date that the fireworks can be purchased. Permits with multiple dates are invalid.
A copy of the permit must be given to a fire or law enforcement official of the designated municipality at least two days prior to the date of use.
Permits may not be issued to minors. There are no conditions under which it is legal for a minor to possess or use fireworks, other than those exempted as noted above.
A non-resident of the state of Wisconsin may purchase fireworks. However to possess or use fireworks in Wisconsin they must have a valid permit. A non-resident without a valid permit may order and purchase fireworks in Wisconsin, but must have those fireworks shipped from the wholesaler to jobber to a designated location out of state.
A person who possesses or uses fireworks without a valid permit, or sells fireworks to a person without a valid permit is subject to a forfeiture of up to $1,000 per violation. Each firework illegally possessed, used or sold may be a separate violation.
A parent or guardian who allows a minor to possess or use fireworks is subject to a forfeiture of up to $1,000 per violation.
The illegal sale, purchase and use of fireworks have been steadily increasing over the past few years. The Sheriff's office responds to far too many complaints of noise, property damage and injuries each year from the misuse of these products. It is my hope that by putting out this information we can all have a safe and enjoyable summer.
Sheriff Dennis D. Hillstead
St. Croix County