The use of fireworks has been banned in Hamilton County after its commissioners declared an emergency due to the drought.
"We enjoy the celebration of the anniversary of the country, but we need to put safety first," Hamilton County Commissioner Christine Altman said.
Altman said this declaration does not ban community fireworks, as long as it is approved by the fire department in that city. She said the commissioners based their decision on a number of things, including advice from a group of fire chiefs. Altman said she believes the state law they are using, known as the Disaster Law, trumps state law. Under state law, people legally can celebrate the Fourth of July and can set off fireworks from June 29 to July 9.
"I understand people may contest this, certainly that's why we have courts and judges. We believe (the disaster does trump state law) or we would not have issued it," Altman said.
Altman said she encourages people to buy fireworks from the local vendors, but wants to make sure people wait to set off those fireworks. She said the commissioners have scheduled a meeting on Thursday, July 5 at 4 p.m. where they will discuss whether to expand the ban or let it expire.
Indiana Fireworks Association Executive Director Steve Graves said they are concerned by the decision the commissioners made to ban fireworks. Graves said he thinks the county commissioners are trying to do what is best, but he questions whether they have the legal right to do so.
"It's unfortunate that we may not get to celebrate it the way we want," Graves said.
Even though there is a drought, Graves said they advocate safety. He believes people can handle setting fireworks on their own, during these conditions.
"I think Hoosiers are intelligent enough to make decision on their own. Sometimes I take offense to government, trying to tell me that I'm not smart enough," Graves said. "I love fireworks. I enjoy fireworks, purchasing fireworks, shooting them off with my family. It's a source of pride," Graves said.
Graves said this ban will impact more than 1,500 people this industry employs.
Indiana Fireworks Association questions Hamilton Co. ban