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Fireworks, Hot Dogs, Coke, & Andy

July 4, 2012

“To do or not to do – that is the question.” I’m not sure the origins of that phrase, but it nicely describes the dilemma faced by Kansas leaders this past week, “To do fireworks – or not to do fireworks.”

Serving as a chief officer for three fire departments has placed me at the forefront of this highly emotional issue. For years I stood on the “no public shooting of fireworks” opinion side of the fence. My thoughts on the matter were shaped from first hand dealings with bad outcomes.

As a medic and a firefighter you get to deal with injuries and damaged property. The right to celebrate the country’s independence by blowing off your finger or burning your neighbor’s house down seems illogical.

This unusually hot, dry summer has heightened this already dangerous celebratory act. So much so that many Kansas communities that allowed the practice for decades decided the risk this year was too high. Not to do was the answer to the question.

When somebody sees another do something they automatically question whether they should follow suit. And that was indeed what other Kansas communities did – others fell in line like a row of falling dominoes.

As I sit on my front porch looking at the big beautiful orange moon in the sky, I hear a steady crackle and an occasional boom – and it’s only July 3rd. My community chose, “To do fireworks.” Funny thing is that was my recommendation too.

One has to understand their community and how the citizens look at things. If you’re going to institute a change, you’ve got to think it through. And the decision needs to be made in a timely fashion with plenty of time to communicate the change. It might not be accepted, or it might be too late to make the change.

It’s not an easy question to answer, so please support those who made the decision. And regardless of whether you get to shoot fireworks, you can still celebrate America’s Independence. Roast some hot dogs, drink a Coke, and watch an Andy Griffith show.

Happy Independence Day!

*Rest in peace Andy Griffith – thanks for all the memories!

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