Herbert signs bill reducing days fireworks can be used

In this file photo, firefighters with the Washington City and St. George fire departments respond to a fireworks-caused fire on a business rooftop on Buena Vista Boulevard, Washington City, Utah, July 4, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A bill reducing the days that fireworks can be used in July was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Gary Herbert.

House Bill 38, Fireworks Amendments, cuts by half the number of days fireworks can be fired in July. Instead of allowing fireworks use three days before and after Independence Day and Pioneer Day, the new law allows fireworks two days before the holidays and one day afterward.

In this file photo, fire crews with the Hurricane Valley Fire District quickly put down a fireworks-caused fire that engulfed several trees and was within five feet of torching a residence in Hurricane, Utah, July 7, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Fireworks surrounding News Year’s Eve and the Chinese New Year are not affected by the new law. Use of aerial fireworks also remains legal.

HB 38 was one of 136 bills signed Tuesday by Herbert. Overall, the governor has signed 380 bills and vetoed one.

“I thought it was a compromise that was acceptable,” Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, said. He voted for the bill when it passed the Utah House in late January.

“I’m a guy who loves fireworks and this still gives me time to blow things up,” Brooks said.

The bill, crafted by Rep. James Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, is considered a compromise between various stakeholders – cities’ law enforcement, firefighter officials, county and municipal officials, fireworks producers and retailers and the public.

There were arguments to allow municipalities to ban fireworks outright, but those were rejected. However, the bill does allow cities greater freedom to ban fireworks in certain areas.

Fourth of July celebration fireworks, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Municipalities have been allowed to ban fireworks in particular areas seen as being susceptible to fires, particularly where urban and wildland areas intersect. The new law has also added to the list of pre-existing restriction zones.

Those new restrictions include areas covered in dry grass, ravines, trails, canyons, waterways and similar areas to be added to a city’s list of prohibited zone. The buffer zone around these areas would be 200 feet on either side.

Areas known to be historically hazardous in relation to fireworks are among those spots cities can count as fireworks-prohibited zones.

To help the public better understand where the fireworks can be used within their cities, fireworks vendors are now required to post maps of the city with the restrictions zones.

The new law also raises the fine for fireworks in restricted areas from $750 to $1,000, yet the charge itself remains an infraction.

The Utah House passed the bill in a 63-3 vote. In addition to Brooks, Southern Utah Reps. Brad Last, Lowry Snow, Jon Stanard, John Westwood, Mike Noel and Merrill Nelson voted in favor of the bill.

The Senate passed the bill Feb. 8 in a 22-5 vote. Southern Utah Sens. Don Ipson, David Hinkins, Evan Vickers and Ralph Okerlund voted in favor.

Resources

Read more: See all St. George News stories related to Utah’s 2018 legislative session

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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Posted in Local, News, Politics, Utah Legislature 2018Tagged , , ,

5 Comments

  • Not_So_Much March 21, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    A good balance.

  • PlanetU March 21, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    July 4th should be the ONLY day and that’s even ridiculous when it’s 90-100 degrees AFTER sundown!

  • Striker4 March 22, 2018 at 9:45 am

    90 isn’t hot

  • No Filter March 22, 2018 at 10:46 am

    I think just having them on July 4th would be just fine, we don’t need them on other days. Except when the city doesn’t celebrate the 4th of July on Sundays because of all the church folks, then we need to change it for that one year. We celebrate Christmas on Sunday when it falls that way, why not the 4th of July. I think it is unpatriotic to move the celebration just because it falls on a Sunday. I think your god will forgive you for missing 1 day a year to celebrate our nations birthday.

  • utahdiablo March 22, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    It’s the use of Aerial Fireworks that needs to be banned…this will not reduce fires until Aerials are banned….so once again, pander to the Vendors

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