Fireworks rules spark debate

Fireworks rules spark debate

A change to Medford's municipal code permitting fireworks within the city limits did not make much of an impression on Greg Kubli.

"I always let them off anyway," Kubli said as he shopped for smoke bombs and sparklers Friday at the Discount Fireworks Superstore tent at the intersection of Rossanley Drive and Sage Road.

Kubli, of Medford, agreed that the Medford City Council made the right decision by lifting the citywide ban.

"Police should be worried about the drunk drivers on the Fourth of July and not 5-year-olds with sparklers," he said.

Residents can possess and light fireworks from June 23 to July 6 or anytime outside of fire season, which normally runs June through October under the amended code.

Despite the new law, the Medford fire and police departments have not received an increase in nuisance fireworks calls.

"It was a tough ordinance to enforce," Medford fire inspector John Patterson said. "People seem to be handling their fireworks carefully this year, but who knows what will come as the Fourth of July gets closer?"

The lifted ban calls for residents to use "safe and sane" fireworks that have lower capacity to cause injury than bottle rockets and Roman candles.

"Safe-and-sane" fireworks are those that travel no more than six feet across the ground when ignited and do not send sparks more than 12 inches vertically from the source of ignition.

Discount Fireworks Superstore manager Dwight Stockton said the new ordinance rewarded people who have always been responsible in using fireworks.

"I think the goal is to separate the law-abiding people from the ones who bring in the illegal fireworks from out of state," Stockton said.

The penalty for illegal fireworks now follows state charges of reckless burning and endangering, Medford police Sgt. Kevin Walruff said.

"They can be very dangerous and can put people at risk," Walruff said. "There are a number of laws that apply to the illegal fireworks, such as 'menacing' if you use a firework in a threatening manner."

Fireworks are still illegal in designated hazardous wildfire areas, including off Foothills Road, east of North Phoenix Road and north of Cherry Lane, because of the terrain, limited access and vegetation. Fireworks also are not allowed along the Bear Creek Greenway or on any public school grounds or parks.

Angel Pillman of Medford, who watched Friday as her 8-year-old son Jared Hunter scoured the shelves looking for Spook Lights and Snap Dragons, would like to see the laws posted at fireworks stands and made more accessible to the public.

"I like the new law, because once you make it illegal for someone to have something, they want it all that much more," she said. "But it would be nice if more people knew about it."

After Jared settled on his firework haul, Pillman walked him through the sales process.

"He likes fireworks a lot more than I did when I was his age," she said. "I was scared of them."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail

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