Dickinson city ordinance prohibits the use of fireworks within the city limits
DICKINSON - Fireworks and the Fourth of July go hand in hand, but fireworks also go hand in hand with several regulations.
Those responsible for enforcing the regulations, local law enforcement, said it's nearly impossible to catch everyone using fireworks in an inappropriate way, but that doesn't mean they don't try.
"On the Fourth of July the discharging of fireworks inside the city is so pervasive that it's almost impossible to enforce," Dickinson Police Department Lt. Dave Wallace said. "Ultimately, we would like people to adhere to the law and discharge fireworks outside the city limits if possible."
It is illegal to set fireworks off within the city limits of Dickinson, but Wallace said that doesn't usually scare people off.
For example, of the amount of fireworks shot off in the city, Wallace pointed to the area near Dickinson High School. He said on the weekend of the Fourth, "there are a couple of hundred incidents happening just right there."
Combine that small area on the western edge with the rest of the city and it gets to be an almost impossible task.
"Try as we may, it's almost impossible to answer them all," Wallace said. "Generally, we'll come by and tell them that you can't discharge fireworks...Most of the ones who get cited are the ones that are doing it in the officer's presence."
"The common one we hear is, 'Well, everyone else is doing it'" he added.
The calls they are able to respond to can result in anywhere from a verbal warning to a citation for a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or 30 days in jail.
Those occurrences are rare, Wallace said, but without exception they happen every year.
"Every year we get calls from people driving down Villard that there are people shooting things at other people driving in their vehicles," Wallace said. "I've even had them shoot at my car."
Fireworks harming individuals celebrating the Fourth isn't the only issue law enforcement is worried about. With dry weather throughout the region this summer, Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said the risk of fire is increased.
"If they end up starting a fire or something, they're responsible for it," Tuhy said. "They can be prosecuted for that."
Tuhy said fireworks are allowed outside of Dickinson's city limits, but that's no reason to be foolish with their use.
The majority of the calls the Sheriff's Department receives are regarding situations where noise nuisance violations are taking place, or there is an overt risk of a fire.
The community of South Heart, just nine miles to the west, has instituted a complete fireworks ban for the Fourth, partially due to the overly dry conditions.
South Heart Police Chief Linda Mosbrucker said its difficult enforcing such a ban, but people in the past have responded positively.
"We had a couple of them and they were told they could not do it and people responded very well to it," Mosbrucker said. "The kids get really disappointed because they were looking forward to it, but you've gotta look out for the safety of the community."
Wallace agreed safety is the core reasoning behind firework regulations.
"Be cautious with fireworks," Wallace said. "Remember, you can't shoot them off in the city."