UTAH'S DROUGHT

Gov. Cox, City Officials Call On State Legislature To Ban Fireworks

Jun 18, 2021, 10:16 AM | Updated: 10:20 am

SANDY, Utah — Gov. Spencer Cox and city officials are making a call for the Utah Legislature to ban fireworks this holiday season as the majority of the state experiences severe drought and dangerous fire conditions.

Cox and city officials in Sandy said their hands are tied the way state law is currently written, and they can’t issue bans on fireworks until action is taken on Utah’s Capitol Hill.

“This is such a great community, I’ve grown up here … I’ve worked here,” said Zach Robinson, an at-large member of the Sandy City Council. “I want to see it be safe — like, that’s my ultimate goal as a local policymaker.”

But when it comes to fireworks safety during the drought, Robinson said there’s nothing he can do under current state law.

“We’re getting a demand from our residents to enact stricter regulations, especially with the 4th of July season coming up, and we just can’t do it,” Robinson said. “Our hands are tied.”

According to Robinson, a 2018 city survey found about 95% of survey respondents would support a citywide fireworks ban during extreme drought conditions.

Cox also addressed the matter Thursday, saying drought conditions are devastating.

“I just can’t emphasize this enough — you guys, it’s worse than you think out there,” Cox said during his monthly press conference.

But Cox said banning fireworks this year is also out of his control.

“I do not have the authority to implement a statewide ban,” Cox said.

Cox said the call is up to state lawmakers to determine statewide fireworks restrictions.

“I’ve told the legislature I think it’s a terrible idea not to have additional restrictions this year. They haven’t shown any interest in doing anything more on that this year,” Cox said.

With no sign of a legislative appetite, Cox is encouraging local municipalities to take measures into their own hands.

Sandy City Fire Chief Bruce Cline is getting creative and looking into banning fireworks near high-risk areas, like wildland-urban interfaces.

Cline told KSL TV the statute would allow fireworks to be banned near wildland-urban interfaces and in municipalities with a documented history of wildfires — like Eagle Mountain, which banned personal fireworks earlier this week.

Cline said they are looking at banning fireworks east of 1300 East in Sandy. That boundary could extend into other cities, such as Draper and Cottonwood Heights.

“Everything east of 1300 East would be (a) fireworks prohibited zone,” Robinson said.

Robinson said keeping his city safe would be a lot easier with some legislative support.

“We run the risk of losing homes,” Robinson said.

The Utah Department of Natural Resources sent KSL a statement saying they support good fire sense and skipping the home fireworks shows in favor of a community-sponsored event.

We also heard from Reps. Andrew Stoddard, D-Sandy, and Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, who said they would support legislative action to ban fireworks this year.

In an email response, Harrison added, “Cities’ hands have been tied by the Republican-controlled legislature.”

Moreover, Robinson asked Sandy residents to report any risky behavior or fireworks-related incidents to local fire and police authorities.

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Gov. Cox, City Officials Call On State Legislature To Ban Fireworks