Police, fire departments prepare for Fourth of July

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Friday, June 27, 2014

JANESVILLE—Independence Day is coming, and with America's freedom celebration come fireworks.

The Janesville Police Department is gearing up.

Several officers will work overtime in foot and bike patrols to monitor the large number of firework complaints the department is expecting.

“We'll be very busy, and we prioritize things, so it will be and can be a delay for fireworks complaints. We go to them, but it might be a while,” Sgt. Brian Donohoue said.

People have different tolerance levels, but if somebody is shooting bottle rockets at a home at midnight, that's “unacceptable” and the police will respond, he said.

The police have concerns about people at festivals lacking common sense and using fireworks in crowded areas. Officers will use discretion when responding to complaints and will consider the situation and previous warnings against the offenders when issuing fines.

“Our main concern, of course, is going to be the safety of the community,” Donohoue said.

The fire department is making preparations of its own.

Firefighters began inspecting local firework tents in mid-June to make sure they're following city ordinances and Wisconsin statutes.

Wisconsin bans the use of any airborne fireworks or anything explosive without a valid permit. Janesville's city ordinances go further and prohibit the use of devices that spin on the ground, too. Those who want such fireworks must purchase and use them outside city limits.

Part of Fire Marshal Sue North's job is to confirm no one's selling prohibited fireworks to Wisconsinites or Illinoisans alike.

“The long and short of it is nothing can move across the ground or leave the ground to the air,” North said.

That rules out the sale and use of firecrackers, mortars and even paper lanterns.

North offered safety tips to those using fireworks this summer.

“Make sure they're lit by an adult. If there are children in the area, they need to be supervised,” she said.

Even sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees, she said. North also recommended not using fireworks near structures or in dry areas.

Donohoue said mixing alcohol and fireworks often results in burns and bad decisions.

“We want a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend,” he said.

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