Fireworks: Laws and safety in Kosciusko County

Fireworks are one of the most recognized Independence Day traditions, but its important to make sure your firework usage is both legal and safe.

The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Departmentoutlines the following laws as a reminder to Kosciusko County residents:

  1. AGE RESTRICTIONS– You have to be 18+ to buy fireworks. If someone under 18 is using or possessing fireworks, someone 18+ needs to be present. Anyone under the age of 18 possessing or using fireworks without the presence of an adult could face a fine of $500 per infraction. Children using fireworks should be monitored closely by an adult to avoid severe burns to the hands and arms as well as other injuries due to improper handling of sparklers, bottle rockets, and firecrackers.
  2. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION– You can only use fireworks on your property, the property of someone who gave you permission to discharge fireworks, or a place designated by the Indiana State Fire Marshal as such. Someone using fireworks at any location other than the 3 previously listed could face a maximum fine of $500 per infraction. Damaging someone else’s property with fireworks could result in a fine of $5,000 as well as 1 year imprisonment.
  3. TIMING IS EVERYTHING– On the Fourth of July, consumer fireworks can be used between 9 a.m. and midnight. On June 29-30 and July 1-3 and 5-9, fireworks can be discharged until two hours past sunset. Most other days that are not holidays, consumer fireworks can be used only between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.

The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department says someone recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally using fireworks and causing the serious injury or death of someone else could face between 1 to 6 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department Captain Chris McKeand says they do get fireworks-related calls this time of year.

“Last year we took a total of 50 fireworks calls, a majority of those were on the weekend before,” he explains. “We occasionally do see some significant hand injuries to both adults and children– missing fingers, things like that– it is very possible for someone to get injured while they’re setting off fireworks.”

McKeand says its more common to see calls about damage to property.

“[You] need to be mindful of neighbors. You send a firework up in the air, it must come down somewhere. You need to think is it going to come down in their yard, is it going to come down on the roof, could I cause a house fire?” he says.

“One of the big concerns is how dry is it going to be? This weekend is supposed to be really, really hot. So, grass is going to be dry, you’re going to be setting off fireworks, could we cause field fires and things like that from actually setting off the fireworks?”

Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Chief Mike Wilson agrees that the dryness is a concern.

“Fireworks emit a spark, and some of the roman candles have flaming balls that come out of them, so once that hits anything that might be cut, dried grass in your yard its going to create a potential for fires that can, and have in the past, spread through to homes,” he tells News Now Warsaw.

“One of the biggest things we tell people is to always try to have a fire extinguisher handy or even if you just take a bucket and put water in it and have it ready in the event that you do see something happening in your yard or around your house with the fireworks, then you’re ready to go,” says Wilson.

Wilson says that in 2017 state-wide 77% of all reported fireworks-related injuries happened from July 1-7, with about 39% of that amount happening on the Fourth.

“We just hope everyone has a really great Fourth of July celebration…please be safe when you’re traveling, enjoy the fireworks…we don’t want to see you in the emergency room,” he cautions.

If you’re unsure if your plans are legal and safe, you can learn  more from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.