City Council: July 4th fireworks show talks underway

Fireworks light up the sky from the 2016 show at Mohave County Fairgrounds.

HERBERTA SCHROEDER/Courtesy

Fireworks light up the sky from the 2016 show at Mohave County Fairgrounds.

KINGMAN – The City of Kingman has had quite a history when it comes to the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. Discussion of the details, planning, and execution of the fireworks show is held every year to ensure it is financially sound, as well as to ensure the safety of all involved. This is especially true following the firework incident that occurred in 2013. The incident involved technician Jeremy Lee who was 40 at the time. Lee was struck in the face with a misfired firework when he went to go check on a set that was not firing properly. The incident lead to major lawsuits, as well as cancellation of future Fourth of July firework displays.

The discussion of planning was held again at Tuesday’s meeting of the Common Council. City staff, including Assistant Fire Chief Keith Eaton, requested direction on the planning of this year’s display. Much of the issue of planning the event centered on the combination of a firework vendors, a venue and day in which the fireworks would be lit, as well as the city’s insurance requirement for this dangerous activity.

With no group stepping forward to take on the task of fundraising for this year’s fireworks as in past years, the task fell to the city. According to Eaton, finding a vendor that can meet the financial requirements of the city is not an issue. Many of the vendors that have been used by Kingman in the past have already made offers to provide for this year’s show. However, city staff have run into an issue with finding a vendor that can meet the City’s insurance requirement.

Insurance for a fireworks display has become very important to the city as of late. However, as Human Resources Director Jackie Walker has stated, “It’s impossible to predict the value of a case.”

Walker and staff did have a recommendation of at least $5 million in coverage based on past cases, as well as the requirements set for neighboring cities. The issue came when vendors offered $1 million in coverage, leaving the city responsible for the other $4 million.

Another item that needed to be planned was the day of the display.

“We feel we can get a better bang for our buck, if we did this not on the Fourth of July, but on the weekend before,” City Manager John Dougherty said.

Dougherty reasoning was that more vendors would be able to provide better service if held before the Fourth of July because they are so busy on the actual holiday. This was quickly decided against however.

“I’m a traditionalist, I would rather it happen on the Fourth of July,” Councilwoman Jamie Scott Stehly said.

Discussion was also held on the location that the display would be held. The council learned that the event could be held on city property, such as the parks, in order to ease the financial burden. However, these venues would allow only for close proximity fireworks. If the city wanted larger scale fireworks, a separate venue such as the fairgrounds, would have to be used.

The City Council has decided to meet again in the near future to further discuss with more direction and detail still needed to plan the event.