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Green Bay's police and fire departments team up to enforce illegal fireworks

10 firework safety tips for July 4th
Posted at 11:13 PM, Jul 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-04 00:13:54-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Green Bay's police and fire departments are in a new partnership enforcing illegal fireworks violations.

"I think it's a great idea, because why would anyone want to have illegal fireworks?," Maggie Giese of Janesville said. "You don't want anybody getting hurt."

"I think the partnership is cool, because it's like trying to stop stuff from happening or things getting worse," Kelsee Thon of Janesville said.

Kelly Schwegel from Watertown said on Sunday night, a friend of hers was using an illegal firework.

Schwegel said it could've ended up being dangerous.

"They set it off, it tipped over sideways as it went off, and went off into the neighbor's forest," Schwegel said.

Through the 4th of July, a Green Bay police officer and fire marshal are occasionally working together on calls related to someone complaining about illegal fireworks.

Police said they are also notifying fireworks vendors about legal and illegal fireworks, and following those up with compliance checks.

Capt. Clint Beguhn said so far, police have given out some citations and many warnings.

"It's not just about the enforcement," Beguhn said. "It's trying to modify their behaviors."

The partnership between the police and fire departments began on June 23. Since that time, police said there have been 55 calls for service related to fireworks. Last year, there were 75.

"It's common this time of year that we get lots of calls for gunshots, which are really just fireworks and mortars going off," Beguhn said.

Police say legal fireworks include:

  • Sparklers 36 inches or less
  • Stationary fountains
  • Smoke bombs
  • Toy snakes
  • Noisemakers

Illegal fireworks without a permit include:

  • Mortars
  • Bottle rockets
  • Roman candles
  • Firecrackers

"The best rule of thumb is if it leaves the ground and goes boom, it's probably an illegal firework," Beguhn said.
According to the city's website, except for professional fireworks companies, it's really difficult to get a permit.

Beguhn said this year, police are seeing juveniles using illegal fireworks.

"Just know what your kid has," Beguhn said. "Know what they're buying."

Caprice Saldana, a mother of four in Green Bay, said there are no benefits to teens buying fireworks.

"Even though some of them probably don't mean any harm, anything could happen," Saldana said.

So, if you want to watch fireworks light up the sky this 4th of July, police say let the professionals handle them.

According to Wisconsin law, unless they have a permit, someone who uses or sells illegal fireworks could face up to a $1,000 fine.