Because of a law passed during the short legislative session, Kentucky residents can now legally purchase the types of fireworks that for years have sent enthusiasts south to Tennessee.
House Bill 333, which was signed by Gov. Steve Beshear last month, allows for the sale of Class C fireworks. They include bottle rockets, roman candles and larger items that shoot exploding fire balls into the air.
The old law permitted only fireworks that stayed on the ground, with nothing shooting into the air beyond a relatively short fountain.
Businesses can now apply for licenses, through the Kentucky fire marshal’s office, which include a $500 annual fee for permanent businesses and a $250 seasonal permit for businesses selling during the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July and New Year’s Day.
Local fire officials say they are not extremely worried about the new law, in part because those who wanted the more powerful fireworks already were finding ways to get them.
“Economically, it was probably the right thing for the state to do to capture the income that is going north and south to Indiana and Tennessee every year,” interim Danville Fire Chief Woody Ball said. “For us, using a new way to monitor the sale of fireworks is what we need to do.”
Ball brought a sample ordinance from Elizabethtown to the Danville City Commission and staff earlier this week and said the state fire marshal’s office is holding it up as a model. The ordinance establishes an additional local permitting process.
The city attorney currently is working on a draft version of a similar ordinance for Danville.
At least one local retailer already has the new fireworks in stock. Sun Tropic Pools on Jane Trail has an assortment of Class C products for sale.
Cory Holman with Sun Tropic said his father has had his Class B license, a wholesaler classification regulated by the federal government, for 20 years. Sun Tropic provides the fireworks for the annual Danville-Boyle County show, shoots fireworks at Boyle County High School football games, and holds its own show at least once a year.
Holman said the business has been in frequent contact with the fire marshal’s office about permitting, but many of the procedures have not yet been established. He said the state has indicated that Sun Tropic may be a kind of guinea pig as it hones the process laid out in the legislation.
One thing Ball doesn’t expect to see in Danville is large retailers springing up like the ones immediately across the Kentucky-Tennessee line, something he said likely will happen along interstates.
Danville Fire Marshal Ken Pflug, who inspects businesses that sell fireworks under the current law, said tracking the seasonal vendors will be much simpler.
“Now we will know a stand is here, know where it’s at, and hopefully mitigate any issues with compliance,” Pflug said.