State officials are stressing safety as South Dakota enters its busiest season for fireworks sales.
Selling fireworks to consumers became legal last Saturday, like it does each year from June 27-July 5. Discharging fireworks is also legal through July 5, but the rules depend on the restrictions set by municipalities such as Sioux Falls, where any fireworks with a projectile, audible report or “launching component” are banned.
With a spike in use of fireworks nationally, Sioux Falls and the rest of the state have mostly avoided the trend, according to local police and the South Dakota Fire Marshal’s office.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t tracking what’s happening across the nation, and in South Dakota, Fire Marshal Paul Merriman said Wednesday.
“We do watch national statistics as well as those here in South Dakota, of course there’s a lot of safety tips and things we offer and a lot of good sites out there with good information,” Merriman said.
In Sioux Falls, off-season firework calls have been up slightly for the months of May and June, but nothing remarkable given how those types of numbers fluctuate, said Sam Clemens, a spokesman for the Sioux Falls Police Department. There have been 62 fireworks-related calls since the start of May, compared to 41 during the same time period last year.
“I wouldn’t say that’s anything terribly unusual,” Clemens said.
The main concern from officials is injury, property destruction and, in rare cases, death due to the misuse of fireworks. Nationally, fireworks started 19,500 fires, injured 9,100 people and killed five.
While other cities across the U.S. are experiencing an uptick of illegal usage and firework-related police calls leading up to the Fourth of July, so far South Dakota hasn’t been part of the trend, Merriman said.
The South Dakota Department of Public Safety is in charge of licensing all retailers in the state, and the number of wholesale, retail and seasonal vendors is flat if not slightly down from 2019.
In South Dakota, consumer fireworks comes with a broad definition that basically only restricts revelers from buying display-level packages. But everything from sparklers to mortars are legal for sale and discharge, again, depending on the municipality.
“With the Fourth of July time period getting closer it will obviously pick up when use of fireworks becomes legal,” Merriman said. “Nothing yet.”
Read or Share this story: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/business-journal/2020/06/24/south-dakota-officials-stress-fireworks-safety-ahead-fourth-july/3241127001/