The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has issued more than 150 permits for public displays of fireworks, although many communities across Indiana have cancelled fireworks events to avoid large gatherings.
IDHS is the authorizing agency for a fireworks display permit, but the final decision to host or cancel a public display is made at the local level, after consultation with local leadership and fire officials. The COVID-19 response and necessary crowd limits have led to the cancellation of some Hoosier displays already.
“This is always a very busy time for our staff,” said Indiana Fire Marshal Joel Thacker. “If we continue to progress as we have according to the Back on Track plan, we look forward to helping those communities that choose to continue their holiday display do so in a safe and fun way.”
With still more than a month until Independence Day, some communities may be acting cautiously before committing to a holiday fireworks event. Governor Eric Holcomb’s Back on Track plan established July 4 as a tentative date to lift crowd restrictions—if the health data related to the COVID-19 pandemic supports that action. Social distancing guidelines would still apply.
“Communities will need to plan for the necessary changes this year to conduct a safe display due to COVID-19. Our staff will provide any guidance and assistance it can for those communities hoping to continue their annual events,” Thacker added.
Permits are required under Indiana law to host a fireworks display. In 2019, IDHS issued about 500 public display permits for Indiana communities leading up to Independence Day. The agency also permits consumer retail sellers and wholesale sellers of fireworks. More information about the permitting and rules associated with fireworks can be found on the IDHS website.
IDHS and the Indiana State Fire Marshal also focus heavily on fireworks safety and education this time of year.
Always remember the following safety tips (available at GetPrepared.in.gov) when interacting with fireworks:
- Use extreme caution when lighting fireworks in the wind. Keep spectators where the wind is blowing smoke and debris away from them.
- Never smoke or consume alcohol when lighting fireworks.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
- Steer clear of others setting off fireworks. They can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.
- Do not attempt to make or alter any fireworks or firework devices.
- Always have a fire extinguisher or water supply, such as a hose or bucket of water, nearby.
- Only light one firework at a time and never attempt to re-light or fix a “dud” firework.
- Be considerate of individuals with PTSD and other types of medical conditions. The noise can cause severe stress and reaction in neighbors.
- Think about pets. Animals have sensitive ears and can be very frightened or stressed by fireworks sounds.