If it flies in air, goes off with bang, it’s illegal in the stateWILLMAR — It’s not uncommon to be in a boat on a lake and be treated to a steady display of starbursts over the tree line.
By: Carolyn Lange, West Central Tribune, Worthington Daily Globe
WILLMAR — It’s not uncommon to be in a boat on a lake and be treated to a steady display of starbursts over the tree line.
It’s also not uncommon for those displays to be illegal.
Minnesota has strict laws on the books regarding fireworks.
“If it flies in the air and it explodes, it is illegal,” said Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog.
Individuals who possess or light illegal fireworks are subject to a $137 fine. Illegal fireworks, sold legally in South Dakota and North Dakota and brought into Minnesota, can be confiscated.
The Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Department confiscates illegal fireworks every year, Hartog said. The evidence is destroyed, sometimes by getting it wet so that it’s no longer explosive.
Last year several people near Norway Lake put on a lengthy fireworks display on a county road. A resident who wasn’t pleased that the road was blocked with exploding fireworks and spectators called authorities. A deputy arrived, took the fireworks and issued a fine.
There are legal ways to put on a fireworks display, but such displays must be supervised by a certified operator.
To be a supervisor, an individual must be 21 years old, willing to follow the steps to become certified — including passing a test and serving as an assistant operator for at least five displays, pay a $100 fee and fill out the proper permit forms with the county auditor or city clerk.
“Average Joe Blow coming off the streets has to go through a lot of steps” to become a certified operator, Hartog said.
Rules were tightened up a few years ago making it more difficult for an individual to get a permit to shoot off fireworks, he said. The goal is to improve safety.
Fireworks displays in municipalities are permitted through the state fire marshal and the city clerk.
In unincorporated areas, the sheriff signs a certification and permits are issued through the county auditor’s office.
Kandiyohi County issues very few permits, said Kandiyohi County Auditor Sam Modderman.
The only permit on file this year with Kandiyohi County is for a commercial pyrotechnic operator located in the northern part of the county.
“You have to go through a process to get a permit to fire those fireworks off, Hartog said. “It’s possible to get a permit; you just have to go through the steps.”
Otherwise, Hartog said, be prepared to be fined and lose hundreds of dollars worth of illegal fireworks.
Hartog acknowledges that illegal fireworks are being shot off around many lakes in the county and there aren’t enough deputies on July 4 to check out every flash in the sky.
But if they do get checked, he said, “they better have a permit.”