More fireworkers legal in Utah, but many cities impose restrictions

Published: Thursday, June 23 2011 11:00 a.m. MDT

A fireworks stand is assembled at Smith's at 900 W. 800 South in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — High-flying fireworks are now legal to purchase in Utah, but many Utahns may have trouble finding a place to set them off.

Many cities and counties around the state have reacted to the recent legislation, which permits the purchase of aerial fireworks, by enacting tougher restrictions, citing safety concerns and increased fire danger.

Rep. James Dunningan, R-Taylorsville, sponsored HB22, which legalizes aerial, or "cake," fireworks that fly as high as 150 feet and extends the period in which fireworks can be purchased and used.

"They can start shooting them off this Sunday," Park City Fire Marshal Scott Adams said. The now-legal aerials are his biggest concern this year.

"With this just being something new. We're not sure what will happen," Adams said.

The biggest change from previous years, Adams said, is the increased clearance required for fireworks — 210 feet around the launch base, 230 feet vertical clearance and 150 feet between the launch site and spectators — which led to restrictions in areas of the city with high populations or dense plant growth.

• In Park City, fireworks are restricted in all canyon and trail areas, around resorts, and in the Aerie's, Bear Hollow, Glenwild, Jeremy Ranch, Pinebrook and Timberline subdivisions.

• Provo has designated six city parks where residents can use legal fireworks, including the high-flying aerials. Normally, the city sets aside four parks, but with the extra space required for the new fireworks and with the number of homes that fall within the adjusted restricted zones, two more were requested to avoid overcrowding, Provo Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield said.

"There is always a concern about overcrowding in the parks," Schofield said.

He said this year's restricted zone increases are not enormous but are noticeable, occurring mostly around the foothills where fire danger is greatest.

"Obviously we want to keep our people safe and we also want to protect our foothills," Schofield said.

The six parks are Seretoma, Exchange, Fort Utah, Kiwanis and Provost parks as well as the non ball-field areas of Footprinters Park. Schofield said his department will be aggressively enforcing the restricted areas, in which no fireworks of any kind are allowed.

"We want people to enjoy their fireworks," he said. "I'm not anti-firework, I'm anti-fire."

• In Salt Lake City, however, fireworks are banned from all city parks, unlike Provo. Changes were made to this year's firework restrictions, most notably in the Avenues, where the boundary restricting fireworks was moved from 11th Avenue down to South Temple. Salt Lake fire spokesman Mark Bednarik said that move was made in response to dry conditions and the new firework laws.

The restricted areas of Salt Lake City include all areas east of Foothill Drive and east of 1300 East to 500 South, including the University of Utah campus; areas north of South Temple to State Street and North Temple to 200 West; areas east of 300 West north of Wall Street through Beck Street to the city limits to the north; all areas west of I-215 in the city.

Many cities around the state are calling for added caution this season as rising temperatures dry out tall grasses, a product of Utah's abnormally wet spring.

"It's dry now, you can see it starting to change," South Davis Fire Marshal Steve Cox said.

Cox said the cities in his jurisdiction have seen minor modifications to their fireworks restrictions, mostly occurring around the east bench. He said his main concern this season is the potential for accident and injury resulting from misuse of the new fireworks.

"We want a safe fireworks season," Cox said. "Know what you've got before you shoot it off."

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