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Insight from WFPD: Residents reminded of fireworks prohibition

While fireworks go on sale in North Dakota beginning this week, West Fargo residents are reminded the possession and use of fireworks within West Fargo is prohibited.

West Fargo Ordinance 12-0310. Fireworks.

1. Except as provided herein, it is unlawful for any person to offer for sale, expose for sale, sell at retail, bring into this city, use or explode any fireworks.

2. This section does not prohibit supervised public displays of fireworks by the city, fair associations, amusement parks, and other organizations. Except when such display is given by the city or fair association within its own limits, no display may be given unless a permit therefore has first been secured.

3. In addition to the penalty provided by Section 12-1001, any violation of this section may result in the seizure or removal by the state fire marshal, sheriff, police officer, or local fire marshal, at the expense of the owner, of all fireworks or combustibles offered or exposed for sale, stored, or held.

The purpose of the prohibition relates to the enforcement of International Fire Codes adopted by the West Fargo Fire Department. Even under the wet cycle conditions we are experiencing, fires can result from the discharge of fireworks. The high intensity at which fireworks burn can quickly dry out an article and cause the item to ignite.

The prohibition also relates to the disturbance generated by the fireworks. Frequently, it is a complaint from a neighbor about the noise, which draws the attention of law enforcement. In the time frame of June 27 to July 11, 2009, officers responded to 66 calls from the public in reference to fireworks violations. Officers made additional contacts with violators based on the officer's own observations. Some contacts result in confiscation of the fireworks, while other contacts result in fines up to $500.

The litter generated by the use of fireworks is a problem for private property owners in the city, the city of West Fargo and the land owners in the area outside the city. Debris from aerial fireworks rain down on surrounding property and seldom are picked up by the user. The fireworks launch tubes and other packaging material is left lying in the roadway or piled on the shoulder of the road. Failure to remove the waste material can result in the violator being charged with littering.

The use of fireworks has become a tradition in the celebration of Independence Day. Fireworks can continue to be part of the Fourth of July if the user agrees to follow the established regulations and respects the rights of others.

Follow the precautions of the manufacturer and exercise safety procedures. Discharge fireworks in authorized areas only. Clean up after yourself so someone else does not have to.

Have a safe Fourth of July.