Ask a Firefighter

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2003

Question: The Fourth of July is coming, but I heard fireworks are illegal in Kenai. Is that true?

Answer: This is an accurate statement. Not only the use, but also the sale of fireworks is illegal within the entire Kenai Peninsula Borough. The city of Kenai's municipal code reads, the "use of fireworks are forbidden within the City except as otherwise provided by code for use in public displays by the City, association and other organization, or groups holding a current permit issued by the City."

As you might recall, during the winter carnival every year the city has a large professional fireworks display put on. The company that puts on this display is registered and licensed with years of experience in designing these programs. They are permitted with the city prior to the show and the fireworks sight is selected in conjunction with the city fire marshal to insure safety for the public and for possible fire safety concerns.

As you can see, a lot of preparation goes into a program before the first fuse is lit. Many safety concerns are addressed and mediated prior to the show. This is not the case with the common fireworks used by the public on the Fourth of July or other events. Controlling fireworks is not the simplest thing and can be very dangerous. Lack of respect for the explosive potential and especially the fire hazards, can be devastating to life and property as was the case in the Big Lake area fire. It goes without saying that a few million acres of dried trees and one stray rocket could make for a substantial fire.

Here on the Kenai Peninsula, we have lived under the threat of a large wildfire potential for many years. We have watched the bark beetles ravish our spruce trees and leave a tinder dry forest in their wake. The spruce bark beetle problem has put everyone on high alert, professional and citizens, throughout the peninsula. Mediation programs have been utilized to remove many of these trees in bulk around populated areas, but the problem still exists. With the cooperation from land and homeowners taking the initiative to remove additional trees from their land, we will begin to make our communities safer.

Because of the attentiveness of Kenai Peninsula citizens to the situation of the spruce bark beetle and the devastation created by them, there have been no large losses of life and property in our area. Emergency workers in your area appreciate your help.

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