Sherriff Toelke responds to concerned citizens and use of fireworks

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Franklin County Mo. - Sherriff Gary Toelke released the following statement in response to the large number of phone calls from concerned citizens and people shooting off fireworks.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has been receiving calls from concerned citizens related to the dry weather conditions and the 4th of July holiday.

Citizens have inquired about instituting a ban on fireworks due to the potential fire hazard.  This concern is shared by citizens throughout the majority of the State due to the dry conditions.

There are no State Statutes that allow a Sheriff in the State of Missouri to institute a ban on fireworks.  Some cities in the State, and Charter Counties, may have the authority to enact an Ordinance; however, since Franklin County is not a Charter Government, they do not have that authority and fall under the State Statutes.

The Missouri State Fire Marshall has issued a warning to citizens in the State of Missouri.  They are asking that everyone be extra careful during the 4th of July Holiday and consider the conditions.

We are also asking citizens to refrain from discharging any fireworks that can travel out of a confined area where the ability to control a fire is not possible.

Rockets and air-born fireworks appear to extinguish in the air but often fall to the ground or rooftops some distance away with the ability to start a fire.

Citizens should also keep in mind that injury or property damage resulting from a reckless act in discharging fireworks could also create a potential liability.  The following is a section taken from the State Fire Marshall’s warning to citizens in the state of Missouri.

"Fireworks sales at licensed seasonal retailers are legal in Missouri from June 20 to July 10. State permits should be displayed at all seasonal retail locations. Missourians who choose to use consumer fireworks should follow basic safety practices:

  • **Purchase fireworks only from a properly licensed retailer.
  • **Keep young children away from fireworks.
  • **Make sure to have water nearby in case of a fire or an accident
  • **Always wear eye protection and earplugs if you have sensitive ears.
  • **Tie back long hair and don't wear loose fitting clothes.
  • **Only light one firework at a time.
  • **Never try to re-light fireworks that have malfunctioned.
  • **Never have any part of your body over fireworks.
  • **Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • **Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • **Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.
  • **Never light fireworks indoors.
  • **Don't use fireworks while consuming alcohol.
  • **Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. Don't save fireworks from season to season."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, far more fires are reported in the U.S. on a typical Independence Day than on any other day of the year, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires.

The NFPA also reports that in 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported deaths, 60 injuries and $36 million in direct property damage.