Jessamine County government and fire officials have elected not to ban fireworks despite extremely dry conditions throughout the region.
The decision came after a 45-minute meeting in Jessamine County Judge-Executive Neal Cassity’s office Tuesday morning.
Officials released this joint statement through Cassity’s office:
“Local officials met this morning at the Jessamine County Courthouse to discuss the issue of fireworks in Jessamine County. Officials strongly encourage individuals to refrain from using fireworks in Jessamine County due to the extremely dangerous conditions.
“If individuals choose to set off fireworks, individuals must use good common sense and judgment and abide by city and state laws pertaining to fireworks. Individuals must be aware that their actions have consequences and will be held responsible for damages related to fireworks.”
During the meeting, officials discussed the catch-22 situation created by the fireworks issue.
“If we ban the public from shooting them off, and in turn, I’ve signed permits for display shows and allow them to continue on with their shows, we’re telling the public, ‘Well, this guy has got money, and he’s shooting off his fireworks, and the officials are going to allow him to do it and they’re saying the public can’t,’” Jessamine County fire chief Mike Rupard said. “We’re going to get more people shooting them off in public because they’re going to be upset about it.”
Rupard brought up another point that many civic groups sell fireworks to raise needed funds for their causes.
“We’re going to be getting into some people’s pockets who spent a lot of money who are trying to make a lot of money,” Rupard said.
Wilmore fire chief Jimmy Powers said that if the local governments were going to put in a fireworks ban, it should have been done at least a week ago.
“We should have done it last week before the people bought all of these fireworks,” Powers said.
The group of nine officials discussed the many other communities like Lexington and Woodford County that have enacted fireworks bans, but Nicholasville fire chief Charles Brumfield said the number of firework-related fires has been low.
“We’ve had maybe two or three,” he said. “I think people realize that it’s extremely dry, and they are a little paranoid about shooting them off.”
Brumfield added that residents “seem to be doing a good job of policing themselves right now.”
Jessamine County Emergency Management Director John V. Carpenter asked the what if question.
“If we don’t (enact a ban), and we have an accident and it burns down the house, is it our fault when we had the opportunity to ban them?” he asked.
Brumfield responded saying that was the catch.
“If you don’t and something happens, it will be our fault,” he said. “If you do and something happens, we could say, ‘We told you so.’ If it was a situation where we were seeing eight or nine firework-related fires a week, I would be more concerned, but 95 percent of our grass and mulch fires are cigarette-related.”
Rupard argued that the governments don’t ban other substances that can be used illegally or cause problems.
“If we go out and respond to a wreck because a guy has been drinking, are we gonna ban beer?” he asked. “Or if a cigarette causes a grass fire, are we gonna stop selling cigarettes?”
Laws in place
The city of Nicholasville passed a fireworks ordinance in May.
According to the ordinance, fireworks may only be used during the following times:
• between noon and midnight July 1 through July 4 regardless of the day of the week
• between noon Dec. 31 and 12:30 a.m. Jan. 1 regardless of the day of the week
• between noon and 11 p.m. on Memorial Day
• between noon and 11 p.m. on Labor Day
• between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The ordinance also states that fireworks cannot be set off within 200 feet of a building, motor vehicle or a person.