Sikeston residents have long been unable to buy or use fireworks within city limits under strict city code. An emergency bill, which proposes relaxing this ban, had its first reading at a city council meeting Monday night.
Emergency Bill #6139 would sustain the ban for the majority of the year, with exceptions for two holidays: Independence Day and New Years’ Eve. Firework sales would be allowed June 27 through July 4 and December 29 through December 31. Use of fireworks would be allowed from June 27 through July 6 between 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., and Dec. 31 through Jan. 1 from 9:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Some city officials are claiming that policing firework activity under the current ban has become a “challenge.” The issue was also debated earlier this year during a mock city council meeting by the Sikeston High School Youth in Government group, where students voted in favor of relaxing the ban.
According to assistant chief James McMillen, Sikeston’s department of public safety is concerned about what impact the bill could have in terms of structure fires and the safety of residents.
“Every year, we have at least one fire, it seems like, on the 4th of July that’s relating to fireworks,” says McMillen. “And keep in mind: that’s when it’s been illegal.”
McMillen says the ordinance has been in place since before his two decades of service, so he’s not quite sure what its purpose was when it was originally passed. But he still sees the nuisance in firework activity.
“We have to keep in mind that a lot of times, pets get upset. We have a lot of war veterans who have PTSD, and that could cause them a lot of grief,” says McMillen.
DPS isn’t completely opposed to passing the emergency bill though, adds McMillen, as they plan to “go with it” either way.
City council suggested adding stipulations if a “no burn ban” is in effect during authorized use times, using fireworks on private property only with the owner’s permission, and banning the use of fireworks in city parks.
The bill will receive its second reading the council’s July 1 meeting. If approved, it would go into effect immediately.