SALT LAKE CITY — The days of igniting fireworks late into the night for a whole month may be shortlived under a proposal that sailed through a House committee Tuesday, restoring previous time limits throughout the state.
Fire and law enforcement officials told the House Business and Labor committee that they had been inundated with fireworks-related noise complaints after the Legislature approved the use of larger, sometimes louder, aerial fireworks in 2011.
"I heard from a number of citizens this last fireworks season — more than I would like, to be honest," State Fire Marshal Brent Halladay told lawmakers. "The complaints I would term 'the three L's': too long, too loud, too late."
And Layton Police Chief Terry Keefe told the committee that his department logged a 1,537 percent increase in disturbance calls due to fireworks.
Lawmakers advanced the bill to the full House on a 13-0 vote.
If it becomes law, HB33 would impose an 11 a.m. to 11 p.m window for using fireworks and would restore the dates during which it would be legal to shoot off fireworks to three days before and three days after the Fourth of July and July 24th holidays.
Last year, lawmakers also expanded the days for lighting up the summertime sky with fireworks from June 26 to July 26.
The new proposal sponsored by Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, does keep the popular aerial cake fireworks legal and permits their discharge until 1 a.m. on both New Year's and Chinese New Year's.
Dunnigan, who also sponsored last year's changes, said $8 million of the new aerial fireworks were sold in Utah in 2011, which generated $500,000 in state and local tax revenues. Overall fireworks sales increased 40 percent, Halladay said.
Ogden Fire Chief Mike Mathieu said the standardized times for discharging fireworks across local boundaries are needed to improve public awareness of the rules and to make enforcement easier.
When citizens complain of fireworks going off near boundaries between cities, it's hard to distinguish which city's noise ordinance applies, Mathieu said. And the law needs to rely on self-enforcement, he added.
"We got many, many, many complaints. We couldn't respond to all the complaints."
The committee meeting was crowded with officials in fire and police uniforms. No one from the public spoke in opposition to the bill.
New rules (if HB33 becomes law):
• Dates to discharge: July 1-7; July 21-27
• Times to discharge: 11 a.m to 11 p.m.; 11 a.m. Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. Jan. 1;
11 a.m. Chinese New Year's Eve to 1 a.m. Chinese New Year's Day
Time restrictions apply statewide
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