Columbia says no to personal fireworks shows

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | 5:00 p.m. CDT; updated 8:56 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Kristy Bare, Hope McDaniels and Shaye McDaniels, light fireworks in the street in front of McDaniels' house in Columbia on July 1, 2006.

COLUMBIA — Some Columbia residents probably know that it's against city ordinance to shoot off fireworks inside city limits. But do you know that it is also illegal to discharge a torpedo?

With the Fourth of July nearing, Columbia police are warning against illegal use of fireworks in city limits, and MU Health Care is giving safety tips in the event that residents do use them.


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At least one Columbia resident now knows how serious Columbia police are about enforcing the fireworks ordinance.

Sam Karson, a 22-year-old MU graduate, was setting off fireworks with friends near his home within Columbia city limits on Monday night when a police officer showed up. “I didn’t know that it was illegal to set off fireworks in Columbia, so when the police came I told them that, and they gave me a warning,” he said.

Karson said the officer was nice about the situation, explaining that if he and his friends were outside the city limits they could set them off all they wanted.

According to Section 16-234 of the Columbia Code of Ordinances, “Every person who shall discharge any gun, pistol, revolver or any other firearm or air rifle, or shall use, burn, explode or set off any firecracker, torpedo, bomb, rocket, pinwheel, fire balloon, Roman candles or any other firecracker or fireworks within the city shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.”

As in previous years, Columbia police sent out their pre-holiday news release reminding city residents that police will be patrolling “to deter disturbances" caused by illegal fireworks. Columbia residents who are found to have set off fireworks are likely to have them confiscated by police.

An alternative to setting off your own fireworks this year is Fire in the Sky at Memorial Stadium. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and is free.

Even though it is illegal to discharge fireworks, many Columbia residents still do. MU Health Care has this advice:

  • Never give fireworks to children.
  • At least one adult should supervise the use of fireworks.
  • Wear protective glasses.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors.
  • Always have a water hose nearby.

If you are injured while discharging fireworks, MU Health Care says you should “cool the burn with cold water, not ice or ice water. Clean the area and cover the burn.”

Although the Columbia Code of Ordinances does allow for permits to be issued to discharge fireworks in Columbia, Steven Sapp, Columbia Fire Department battalion chief said private citizens are not able to obtain those. “Usually we only issue three permits a year” to licensed professionals with training and liability insurance, he said.


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Matt Y July 1, 2009 | 5:47 p.m.

Like every year, this will be actively ignored. Might as well not even enforce it.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 1, 2009 | 7:36 p.m.

There will be so many citizens city wide shooting off all kinds of fireworks the police cannot possibly ever catch them all and the citizens know this too.

Go on top of any tall enough parking garage in the city and watch the shows in a 360* angle. There really are some neat fireworks citizens shoot off all over the city.

Alot of the best are in the North areas of town but there have been some spectacular ones I have seen directly over the heart of First Ward.

(Report Comment)
Danny Spry July 1, 2009 | 9:24 p.m.

What about the areas that are "annexed". I have fireworks going off in my neighborhood all night long and I am paying to live in the City of Columbia. People in the neighborhood have kids, as do I, who are sleeping, and people work in the mornings. These idiots are dropping BOMBS! It sounds like a small war outside! I wish someone could do something about the annexed areas in the 2nd Ward. Please dont forget about us, I vote, and I am a taxpayer to!

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 1, 2009 | 10:18 p.m.

And that's why I live in Free Boone County (trademark pending)!

(Report Comment)
m r July 1, 2009 | 10:59 p.m.

"Please dont forget about us, I vote, and I am a taxpayer to!"

He may be a taxpayer, but not a great speller of common three letter words. Light 'em up, kids!

Oh and great article, Mr. McGuire.

(Report Comment)
Greg Collins July 2, 2009 | 9:17 a.m.

I'm glad armed robbery, assault, burglaries, shootings and generally thievery are so under control in Columbia our police can concentrate on the real evils in our society .... residents discharging fireworks. Gasp, oh the horror.

(Report Comment)
Seth Putnam July 2, 2009 | 11:53 a.m.

@ The City of Columbia, Danny Spry and the rest:

God forbid American citizens should participate in a tradition that commemorates our independence. Dropping bombs? It sounds like a war? That´s the point. Not to mention the fact that some people in the world actually DO have a war outside their houses, not just for an evening, but all the time. I´m so sorry that displaying patriotism one day a year is cramping your style.

(Report Comment)
Jon Antel July 2, 2009 | 12:12 p.m.

blah this is stupid!!!!!!!!!!!! ah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they cant do this!

(Report Comment)

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