Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
We were just kids, playing around.
It was dark, but not dark enough so the July 4th fireworks from a nearby county park hadn’t begun yet. So some of the neighbor kids and I were on a street corner, armed with lit sparklers. My mother was there, too.
Someone, I don’t remember who, decided to toss his lit sparkler into the air. It came down quickly, landing on the ground harmlessly, just as a squad car drove by.
The squad came to a halt.
An officer inside didn’t get out but talked to my mother through his rolled-down window. He muttered something to the effect that she could go to jail or some nonsense, gave the obligatory “be careful,” and then took off.
My father joked that night and for many years after that if he had been there with my mother, he would have gladly told the officers to haul her away.
In many locales in Wisconsin, just about every firework is illegal, including sparklers. I’ve read that sparklers can reach temperatures of 2500 degrees, and thus, are quite dangerous. At least, that’s what safety officials always told us in interviews when I worked in radio all those years.
Of course sparklers are dangerous………if you’re stupid. Who grabs one of those lit babies by the part that’s actually sparkling? Maybe some child absent parental supervision.
No sparkler known to man will ever burn down a house. Sparklers should be legal in all of Wisconsin but we have tried our darndest to take all the fun out of the 4th of July.
The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel reminds us that the city of Milwaukee has increased the penalties for fireworks. The old sanction used to be $100-$500 per violation. Now it’s $500 to $1,000 per violation.
Remember my sweet, innocent mom? If that same scenario were to take place now, she could face a fine of $1,000 for letting children use fireworks. If Mrs. Fischer doesn’t pay the fine, she can go to jail for 40 days.
Isn’t it wonderful to see leaders cracking down on the real problems facing the city of Milwaukee?
Listen up Independence Day party animals in the city of Milwaukee: No sparklers, no firecrackers, no Roman candles, no bottle rockets, no peas in the cole slaw. Okay, I made that last one up.
And then consider Wisconsin’s impossible to understand fireworks law. The Wisconsin Department of Justice writes on its website, “Sparklers, stationary cones and fountains, toy snakes, smoke bombs, and caps, noisemakers and confetti poppers with less than Вј of a grain of explosive mixture are legal without permits, unless restricted by local ordinances. All other fireworks, including roman candles, firecrackers, bottle rockets, mortars etc.--anything that explodes or leaves the ground--is illegal except for groups with permits. Penalties: Up to $1,000 forfeiture per violation (each firework may be a violation); up to $10,000 and 9 months in jail for a person who violates an injunction prohibiting them from violating the law.”
Then you have the whole issue of enforcement. You’ll hear law enforcement make proclamations right about this time that they will be out in full force to nab and any and all violators. Oh, really? I’m sure our local police have far higher priorities than scouring the neighborhoods searching for the infamous sparkler.
So, if you want to shoot off fireworks in your backyard or in the neighborhood court, get a permit from your mayor, village president or town chairman. If you don’t and get caught and are actually cited by police, get ready to fork over hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
And have a nice holiday.