Beatrice officials may revisit sky lantern issue in fireworks ordinance

BEATRICE – The City of Beatrice may be able to revise a just-finalized new ordinance on the sale and use of fireworks.

Monday night, the city council gave final approval to an ordinance that will comply with state law passed this session, which expanded the definition of consumer fireworks allowed in Nebraska.  The new ordinance allows use of so-called, sky lanterns.

Just yesterday, however, the Nebraska Fire Marshal’s Office issued a news release saying that the lanterns are still prohibited for sale, possession and use in Nebraska.  Beatrice Mayor Stan Wirth says he was surprised by that.

"Whether or not that was imbedded somewhat in the legislation, I'm not sure. But, we will revisit that at our next city council meeting. More than likely, judging from the attitude of the city council, we will no longer have sky lanterns in Beatrice, either."

Several years ago, one of the sky lanterns floated down on top of the Salvation Army headquarters in downtown Beatrice, touching off a fire. A quick fire response kept damage to a minimum.

"It isn't just in our community. It has happened in other communities where that has occurred. I would be remiss in not saying that if you're out on a farm and this thing...and there's a south wind and its headed toward your wheat field, that might make you just a little bit uneasy. I don't think it's a good idea just to have a flame going up into the air and have no idea where it's coming down."

The fire marshal letter details the deadline to apply for a retail fireworks stand license….which is at the end of today, June 10th.

LB 152, offered by Senator Julie Slama of Peru was passed by the legislature this session and signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts. The measure allows for sale of fireworks labeled as 1.4G explosives and allows some items that were previously prohibited, in Nebraska.  Nighttime parachutes and bottle rockets can now be sold in Nebraska….but the flying lantern devices are still banned by the Nebraska Fire Marshal. Wire sparklers remain prohibited.