SALT LAKE CITY — In light of drought conditions in Utah, local leaders have sounded the alarm on fireworks this year. With the Fourth of July holiday around the corner, they said they will be cracking down on violations and ramping up enforcement.
"I'm real worried because the last couple of years, we've had some wetness around Fourth of July, and we've still had fires," said Fire Chief Dan Petersen with the Unified Fire Authority.
Petersen said drought conditions are so bad, it will be all hands on deck during July's festivities.
"If you stand up on the hillside and look out over the valley on the Fourth of July, it is absolute mayhem across the entire valley with fireworks, and if it's raining, not a problem, but it's not going to rain this year," he said.
The biggest offenders, Petersen said, could be the seemingly insignificant events that burn up resources.
"I'm really afraid that we are going to be completely committed on dumpster fires, on trash fires, on shrub fires across the entire valley, and be really having to pair down our responses and not be able to effectively suppress a fire that might be spreading," he said.
Authorities said they were hopeful Utahns will go to a city show, instead of buying their own fireworks this year.
But for those who choose to light up, fireworks are only allowed around the July Fourth and Pioneer Day holidays and during certain times of the day, as Gov. Spencer Cox emphasized earlier in the week.
Between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., except as noted:
- July 2 – July 5, 2021, with July Fourth hours extended to midnight
- July 22 – July 25, 2021, with July 24th hours extended to midnight
"You also need to know that just because you can do fireworks, if you start a fire, you will be held liable for that fire," Cox said.
Petersen said they will be cracking down on offenders, even if the offender is your child.
"Including the kids, so if your kids are playing with fireworks in a restricted area or outside of the approved timeframe, you're going to be liable," Petersen said.
"My understanding is last year, we had over 60 fires in the state that were caused by fireworks," Cox said.
Fines can reach up to $1,000, plus damages and whatever it costs to put out the fire, and only Class "C" fireworks are permitted.
The following fireworks are prohibited:
- Cherry bombs
- Roman candles
- Bottle rockets
- Single-shot mortars
- Any non-cake aerial device
Fireworks penalties and violations:
- Up to a $1,000 fine for negligent discharge
- Civil liability for cost of suppressing the fire
- Civil liability for damages the fire causes
- More information about penalties can be found here.
"One of those can turn into a million dollar a day fire," said Cox. "That's how damaging these things can be."
It's really important to look up the fireworks restriction maps in your area, and it gets tricky because some cities are still updating theirs.
You can also call City Hall or your local fire department, or check out the State Fire Marshal's website.