Indiana Law Will Prevent Council From Limiting Fireworks

Council members had hoped to limit the number of days fireworks are allowed around the Fourth of July holiday.
An idea sparked in Evansville City Council Monday is stifled by state statute. Council members had hoped to limit the number of days fireworks are allowed around the Fourth of July holiday, perhaps to just one weekend.

According to Indiana law, the city cannot amend it's fireworks ordinance to allow fireworks on fewer days than the 10 days surrounding July 4, plus the holiday itself.

"I think it's disappointing that a municipality can't dictate its policy related to fireworks," says Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley, D-Ward 3.

City Council President John Friend, D-Ward 5, says he was surprised to learn the council wouldn't be able to amend the city's fireworks ordinance. "Usually the state, a lot of times, tries to give you a little local rule in play," added Friend.

Council members are now looking for better ways to educate the community about the days and times fireworks can be used. The ordinance already requires retailers to post the rules in their shops, but several council members are proposing an amendment that would take it one step further.

"Wouldn't it be nice if it was stapled to their receipt?" asked Brinkerhoff-Riley, D-Ward 3. "You know, what the ordinance says now is just that it has to be conspicuously posted close to the entrance and you know that's not always where the buyer is gonna look."

With fireworks still going off at all hours of the night, long after the final allowed day, questions are also being raised about how the current rules can be better enforced.

"You know that's kinda the million dollar question that each of my neighborhood associations are going through," said Missy Mosby, D-Ward 2.

"We just don't have the manpower to be able to police it all. And they admit to that," added Friend.

With all hopes of limiting the days fireworks can be set off, council members say their main focus will turn to making sure people know the rules. "Unfortunately you're always gonna have people that aren't gonna abide by the law and they're gonna continue to do what they want to do but maybe this will help let people know when the dates are and the times are and they'll adhere to those."

State law does not require municipalities to allow fireworks to be used on holidays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day. Evansville currently allows fireworks to be used on those holidays, something council members might reconsider.
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