The Fourth of July brings barbecues, gatherings and of course, fireworks. The River Falls and Hudson Police Departments want to ensure you enjoy all the excitement of fireworks with the knowledge to do so safely and legally.
“Be smart and thoughtful when you are celebrating the Fourth of July,” said Hudson Chief of Police Geoff Willems. Here are a few things to know heading into the holiday weekend:
Legal fireworks under state law
Wisconsin set the minimum restriction for fireworks law in the state. There are a few fireworks that may be sold, possessed and used legally, including sparklers not exceeding 36 inches in length, stationary cones and fountains, toy snakes, smoke bombs, caps, noisemakers, confetti poppers with less than 1/4 grain of explosive mixture and novelty devices that spin or move on the ground. There are no age restrictions on these items.
Illegal fireworks under state law
Illegal fireworks to purchase, possess or use unless a permit is obtained include firecrackers, roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars. A commonly used rule of thumb is that a permit is required if the device explodes or leaves the ground.
Variations of state law between municipalities
Different municipalities in Wisconsin have variations of firework laws. “Local ordinances may also regulate fireworks and may be stricter than state law, but cannot be less strict,” as outlined by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (WDJ).
It’s important to understand the laws where you plan to celebrate. In River Falls and Hudson, you will not find local wholesalers, as the sale and discharge of fireworks is heavily restricted in the municipalities.
Fireworks purchased outside of city limits are still illegal to use in Hudson or River Falls, unless listed as legal, such as smoke bombs, or with an approved permit from the municipality in which you intend to use fireworks.
Unless a resident of Wisconsin, a person may not possess or use fireworks in Wisconsin without a valid state permit.
Applying for a permit
Once you’ve submitted an application for approval at least 30 days prior to the event date, “the chief of police, fire chief and mayor review it and sign off if they deem the event safe,” said Officer Tom Overland of the River Falls Police Department. Contact your local Police Department with any questions regarding the use of fireworks.
“One common thing that we're seeing is fireworks retailers will issue the purchaser of fireworks a fake permit or permit that they give as just the retail seller, which is not valid in the City of River Falls. And it can be misleading to anyone that purchases the fireworks.”
Firework safety tips
The following safety tips were outlined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks and always have an adult present.
Young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
Light fireworks one at a time.
After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
“We'd ask that people respect their neighbors and also respect the fire danger that we're having right now,” said Chief Willems.