BEATRICE – The City of Beatrice has amended its fireworks ordinance to match with new state law passed this year, which expands what are considered consumer fireworks.
A legislative bill proposed by Senator Julie Slama was passed and signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts, aimed at making the state more competitive with surrounding states’ fireworks laws and sale.
The Beatrice ordinance change now removes a prohibition on so-called sky lanterns. Councilman Bob Morgan says he would like to see that issue revisited in the future.
"I do think it's something we should watch again, this year. It does concern me, that's the change by the state because I do think there's risk involved there. Probably more than even some of the current fireworks that are not allowed. If we do have something that happens I would like to see us at least revisit this next year on what the city can do to protect itself."
Councilman Mike McClain is also concerned by the change regarding lanterns.
"I'm surprised that they are allowing them back, because of the fire hazard. I agree, we've got to keep an eye on them."
Several years ago, one of the sky lanterns came down on the roof of the downtown Salvation Army building, touching off a fire. The City of Lincoln also had a damaging fire from one of the lanterns about six years ago. Several cities had enacted rules banning flying lanterns.
Beatrice officials, discussing lanterns at that time, said the danger is the airborne devices can fly long distances and come down on roofs or fields, touching off fires.
The updated list of fireworks from the State Fire Marshal’s Office that are now allowable has not been received by the city.
Upcoming sales and use of fireworks in Nebraska includes the period from June 25th through July 4th. In Beatrice, sales and use of fireworks are allowed from July 1st through the 4th.