SALT LAKE CITY — State lawmakers are considering reducing the number of days around the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day that fireworks would be legal in Utah.
Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, proposed Wednesday to allow fireworks two days before July 4 and July 24, and one day after, a total of eight days around those two holidays. Current law allows 14 total days around those two holidays.
The bill cuts the number of legal days nearly in half while still allowing Utahns to celebrate with fireworks, he said. Fireworks would remain legal on New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year. The measure would not ban aerial fireworks.
"I feel this is a very good compromise," Dunnigan said.
State and local officials received numerous complaints last July over fireworks disrupting neighborhoods and causing fires.
In July, there were 1,100 reported fires statewide, 180 of which — 16 percent — that were ignited by fireworks. In Salt Lake County, fireworks started 50 — or 12 percent — of all blazes that month.
New Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini told the Business and Labor Interim Committee that he underwent a "baptism by fireworks," noting the many complaints he received.
Because fire crews were tied up on fireworks calls on the Fourth of July, other calls had to wait, he said.
"That's unacceptable," Silvestrini said, adding the bill remedies some of the problems.10 comments on this story
The legislation would give local governments more ability to ban fireworks in hazardous areas, such as parks, trails, ravines and washes. It also increases the fine for lighting fireworks in restricted areas to $1,000. It calls for fireworks stands to display the new law and maps of restricted areas.
"It's not perfect, but I think this is a bill that can be lived with as a retailer and as a constituent of areas that have been impacted drastically," said Jason Amott, managing director of Blast Pyro Fireworks.
The Unified Fire Authority and the Utah League of Cities and Towns expressed support for bill.
The business and labor committee adopted the legislation, which the Utah Legislature will consider when it meets in general session in January.