If you live in Covington you’ll have to go outside the city limits to purchase fireworks this year.
And don’t even think about shooting them off in town, city officials reminded residents this week.
“It’s just an important reminder we have had issues in the past with not only with people’s personal property and people being at risk, but our own public safety as well. Our own police and fire have been fired at by these mortar rounds, shells and large fireworks,” said mayor Justin Hanson.
Last year, after body cameras caught fireworks being shot at police officers while they worked, city officials banned both their sale and the discharge.
The careless use of fireworks had been a topic of discussion for board members for years.
On July 4, 2018, alderman John Edwards’ family home on West Ripley was heavily damaged by teenagers shooting fireworks.
In June 2020, a house on South High Street was heavily damaged by a fire investigators believe was caused by fireworks. A single mother lived in the home with her three children, but they were not home at the time.
Fire chief Richard Griggs said the June fire caused $80,000 in property damage and over the course of the fireworks season there were four major injuries.
Reports from the August 2020 Public Safety Committee show seven people were arrested in June and July for shooting fireworks at police officers and other fireworks-related incidents.
Nine reports were filed for vandalism, aggravated assault and arson.
Even though they passed the ordinance banning fireworks nine months ago, several aldermen have said they’re already hearing fireworks this year.
“We not only outlawed the sale of fireworks in the city, we outlawed the use,” said Hanson. “It’s a safety issue and, unfortunately, those who don’t want to use them properly have ruined the chance for everybody to do it properly. We want to make sure everyone has as safe a Fourth of July as possible.”
City officials had already limited the use of fireworks to three specific days each year, but it wasn’t doing enough to curb the problems.
Where fireworks sales are permitted, state law allows for fireworks stands to operate for two weeks prior to the days in which fireworks can be discharged.
This typically means fireworks are being discharged in neighborhoods during the entirety of that period. Last year, however, saw an unusually high number of fireworks all over the country attributed to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
To help enforce the new law, police chief Larry Lindsey said extra officers would be working that weekend, as usual, and they will likely be running two-man cars if they can.
He hopes proactive education will help curb the issue and the department plans to use social media and the message board trailers on the city’s main thoroughfares to get their reminder out.
“We’re going to enforce, we’re going to seize fireworks, and we’re going to charge,” Lindsey said.
Organizations who wish to have a fireworks show can apply for a permit to do so.
Persons caught in violation of the ordinance will be fined $50 per discharge. Parents of those under the age of 16 who have detonated fireworks will be cited to court on the child’s behalf.