From Fun to Fear: Fireworks Safety

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Kids firing fireworks into trees in Rock Canyon Park started a fire on July 3rd. On July 4th, St. George News reported that St. George firefighters responded to 26 fireworks-related calls between 9 p.m. and midnight. KUTV reported the same day that fireworks started a field fire that burned close to homes in Lake Point.

Fun can quickly turn to fear if people aren’t careful with fireworks.

Unified Fire Authority public information officer Ryan Love told KSLTV that firefighters stay up until about three in the morning every year in anticipation for the next Fourth of July call. He said though there has been more rainfall this year, that doesn’t necessarily mean fewer fires. In fact, people might assume danger is less likely and be more reckless.

As a result of these and other local fires, several Utah counties, including those against the use of fireworks, implemented fire restrictions.

This map of Provo details the areas where fireworks are permitted and prohibited. (Provo Fire and Rescue)

Provo Fire and Rescue gave fireworks discharge restrictions for the area. Fireworks are prohibited east of Kiwanis Park, on BYU campus and in all parks except Sertoma, Exchange, Fort Utah, Footprinters, Provost and Kiwanis. Fireworks are only allowed on Independence Day (July 2-5), Pioneer Day (July 22-25), New Year’s Eve (December 31-January 1) and on the Chinese New Year.

Provo City Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield said Provo Fire and Rescue gets more calls every year once fireworks become available to the public. Because of this, he offered advice on how to stay safe around fireworks.

When it comes to shooting off fireworks, Schofield said, people simply need to be aware of their surroundings. Fires often happen because people light fireworks near combustible areas like dry fields.

Weather also plays a role in firework safety. “What the extremely wet winter has done for us, is that really tall cheatgrass that was nice and green up until the first week of July is now brown and read to burn,” Schofield said. People should make sure to always have a method of extinguishing fires when lighting fireworks. 

Schofield suggested people light fireworks on pavement or near green grass. However, even when people are aware of their surroundings and prepared to extinguish fires, Schofield said fireworks will always present a danger. 

“Sparklers are actually pretty dangerous,” he said. “The fire at the tip of a burning sparkler is hot enough to melt gold, and we give those to two- and three-year-olds to wave around.” Along with being aware and prepared, Schofield said supervision is key.

Schofield said Provo Fire and Rescue is very serious about clearly designated restricted areas, which are outlined on its website

“We actually have a lot of confidence in our citizenry if they’re going to be responsible in using their fireworks,” Schofield said, “and they have not let us down.”

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