A bright flash as red ash lights the night sky and goes dark as is settles to the ground and darkness once again consumes the night. Fireworks are a fun part of holiday festivities, but are a cause for concern.
Last year, a change in Utah’s fireworks law, HB22, made it possible for aerial cake fireworks to be fired and to ignite fireworks for the whole month of July, but firefighters, residents and others thought that amount of time for shooting off fireworks was too long.
“I made a commitment to fire folks that we would run it for a year and if we needed to make some amendments we would do it,” said Rep. James Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville. “This year is kind of a clean-up to last year’s bill.”
The bill has been amended and HB33 passed easily through the Utah House and Senate and is headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.
The new law allows fireworks to be discharged between July 1 and July 7 for the Fourth of July holiday and between July 21 and July 27 for Pioneer Day. During these times, the discharge times with be from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. — except for on the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day, when the time is extended to midnight.
Also, fireworks are permitted between 11 a.m. on Dec. 31 to 1 p.m on Jan. 1 for the New Year’s Holiday and the same rules apply for the Chinese New Year.
“You’re still going to see a good amount of fireworks, but it will be limited in the 14 days instead of the 30,” said Provo Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield.
By cutting back on the hours and days that fireworks can be used, it helps the fire and police departments control the area, helps residents follow the laws and keeps everyone safe.
Residents complained about having fireworks shot off too late at night, venturing up to 3 a.m., and making it difficult for workers to sleep. Late-night fireworks bothered animals and humans alike.
“I think that if you are a person that enjoys sleep and works or has small children everyday, what it does is allows you to sleep during the months that fireworks are sold,” Schofield said.
Also, there were problems with neighboring cities having different noise ordinances that couldn’t be followed or enforced because the neighboring city had later hours for noise — the noise travels through the invisible city wall.
“I think that would be great because then it won’t be such a noise pollution for those that are not night owls,” said Melia Harris, a public health major.
While the times of firework discharge have been changed, lawmakers have not prohibited aerial cake fireworks. The fireworks that were able to be shot off last year are still legal for the holiday season, but it is restricted, as usual, by location.
“We had a relatively safe last year,” Schofield said. “We look forward to continuing working with our citizens to have a safe holiday season.”
After last year’s firework amendments, Utah fireworks retailers sold $8 million worth of aerial cake fireworks in addition to the typical $9 to 10 million sold in previous years.
“We just don’t need to do it toward the middle of July or in June,” Dunnigan said.