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Community Corner: What you can and can't fire on the Fourth
by Doug McKinley
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This year in Platteville we’re discouraging the whole idea of personal fireworks. In light of the drought we’ve been experiencing it just seems like the prudent thing to do. No one wants to be responsible for starting a fire just because they wanted to run around their yard with a sparkler or two.

Portions of Grant County are already under prohibitions on open burning.  I’ve also noted that several communities in Wisconsin have postponed or canceled their Fourth of July fireworks shows due to the drought. Here we hope to take adequate precautions so we’ll be able to hold our annual fireworks display on the 4th as usual.

Typically in Platteville when it comes to fireworks, the following rules apply: If the firework leaves the ground or explodes, then you need a permit in order to detonate it in Wisconsin. What this boils down to is the following: state law allows the possession, sale or use without a permit of sparklers less than 36 inches in length, stationary cones and fountains, toy snakes and smoke bombs, caps, noisemakers, and confetti poppers with less than ¼ grain of explosive mixture and novelty devices that spin or move on the ground. These are the only kind of “fireworks,” as the word is commonly used, that a person may use or possess without a permit or that may be sold to a person without a permit. Possessing or using any other fireworks including for example firecrackers, roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars in Wisconsin without a valid permit is illegal.

Permits for possessing, purchasing or using fireworks can be granted by individual municipalities, but here in Platteville we have made a practice of only issuing a permit to the professionals who are contracted to launch the fireworks for the annual display at Legion Field.  Permits require the signature of the Fire and Police Chiefs and they must be approved by the Common Council.

With the drought conditions in effect this year I’d recommend buying some interesting glow sticks and flashlights and water balloons for the kids and leave the fireworks to the professionals.  It’s not worth the risk of starting a fire and ruining the holiday for yourself and others.

The Platteville Police Department and other sites around the city have been activated as cooling centers in light of the extreme heat and humidity we’ve been experiencing.  Check out the City website,, and other information outlets to see where you can go locally to beat the heat.