Fireworks Patrols

By: Mark Lindner
By: Mark Lindner

The Welcome to Wisconsin sign isn't the only thing beckoning many to cross the state line. Once in Wisconsin many are drawn to products promising big bangs, colorful shows, and plenty of excitement. But often times those who shouldn't be making a big bang are.

"No one will let their kid approach an oven when they've just taken freshly baked cookies that are probably around 375 degrees and reach for one of those yet they'll take a lighted sparkler that burns about 1800 degrees and hand them that," says Division Chief Frank Schmitt of the Rockford Fire Department.

The Rockford Fire Department is cracking down on people who use illegal fireworks. Efforts begin at dusk by looking for anyone who is shooting off fireworks. Chief Schmitt says those that are caught rarely resist.

"People are very understanding. First of all, they know they're breaking the law when they bought the fireworks," he says.

According to the manager of one Beloit fireworks store, out of state visitors have meant big business.

"Probably about three quarters of it I'd guess. We get Wisconsin too," says Brad Lawver, general manager of Cornellier Fireworks.

"People in Wisconsin exist only to sell to out of state people," Schmitt says.

"Usually what I tell people to do is find out what they can do back in their municipality. Some times you can get permits to light particular fireworks that we do sell inside," Lawver says.

Winnebago County residents we caught up with at the store say they weren't there to buy illegal fireworks.

"The fact that it is illegal and they'll probably be throwing people in jail and have to pay fines and stuff for setting off illegal fireworks, I definitely don't want to do any of that," says Rockford resident Austin Story.

"Some things are bad, especially if the houses are closer together. I don't want one landing on my roof," says Loves Park resident William Aldritt.

Meanwhile, the Rockford Fire Department has some advice for those looking to break the law.

"if you're buying fireworks, its the same thing as driving down the street and throwing money out the window because all you're doing is just burning it up," Chief Schmitt says.

People who are caught with illegal fireworks face fines of up to $750 and a court date.


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