LOCAL NEWS

Firefighters Prepare For Busy Holiday Weekend

Jul 3, 2020, 8:11 PM | Updated: 8:17 pm

MIDVALE, Utah – Firefighters across Utah are on high alert as hot, dry and windy conditions roll into the state for the Fourth of July weekend.

They expect many families to celebrate Independence Day on their own, especially after many city and county shows have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

However, they urged Utahns to celebrate carefully to avoid spark more wildfires.

Bridger Bedzinger, a Unified Fire Authority rookie, is walking into his first wildfire season and Fourth of July weekend as a firefighter, and he’s ready for the calls to start coming in.

“I actually just started in February,” Bedzinger said. “There is a small history of it in my family, so I figured I would pick up where my grandfather left off.”

Bridger Bedzinger started with UFA in February.

UFA firefighters were expecting many of this weekend’s calls to be firework-related.

“Without a doubt, the Fourth of July, the 24th of July, here in Utah, we see an uptick in calls especially dumpster fires, trash can fires, sometimes injuries associated with those fireworks,” said Matthew McFarland, UFA spokesperson.

And it’s those seemingly small fires that pose the biggest threat under dry, windy conditions, as the state saw just last weekend.

In Lehi, sparks from a firework ended up burning 450 acres and forced evacuations in Lehi and Draper.

“The last thing we like is to spoil the fun. We love the holidays. We like hanging out with our families. We like celebrating Independence Day, but we don’t want people to get hurt. We don’t want property to be lost. If it’s super windy, it’s just not the day to use fireworks,” said McFarland.

Often, firework-caused blazed could have been prevented by staying away from prohibited areas, and using fireworks responsibly.

“There’s a lot of neighborhoods where the risk is just too high and at no point in time are you allowed to use fireworks,” McFarland said. “If you don’t have a bucket of water and a hose.. you shouldn’t be using fireworks period,” McFarland said.

That’s why firefighters suggest having these things on hand when lighting fireworks – even sparklers.

  • Bucket of water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Garden hose
  • Safety goggles
  • Bricks

“Small legal fireworks are often lightweight, and the upright ones have a tendency to fall over when you use them. I love it when people take landscaping bricks … and they just kind of sandwich the firework between them. It brings a lot of stability,” McFarlane said. “It keeps them from falling over and shooting off in the yard.”

Using bricks can help prevent fireworks from tipping over.

When it comes to sparklers, firefighters said they are some of the biggest violators.

Half of pediatric visits to the emergency room over fireworks season involved sparklers, and firefighters said children under 6 years old shouldn’t be playing with them at all and older children require close supervision.

Once the fun has burned out, fireworks should be soaked in a bucket of water for a recommended 24 hours.

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Firefighters Prepare For Busy Holiday Weekend