Sandy Fire Chief: Please don’t use fireworks this summerJun 28, 2021 03:43PM ● By Justin Adams
The Sandy City Council slightly expanded the zone of which fireworks are restricted within the city during a meeting on June 22.
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
Salt Lake City tied a record for heat on June 15 with a scorching measurement of 107 degrees. So it was fitting that on the same day, Sandy City Fire Chief Bruce Cline appeared before the Sandy City Council to plead with residents to do everything they can to prevent fires in these dry conditions, including forgoing fireworks.
“Right now our weather patterns are looking more like August or September. That's how dry our vegetation is,” said Cline, who compared the city’s dry brush to a puddle of gasoline. “That’s how fast it will go up.”
Given the dangerous conditions, Cline encouraged Sandy residents to go without personal fireworks shows this year.
“I'm asking people to look for professional fireworks shows,” he said, pointing to the city’s July Fourth celebration as one example.
Many residents have asked, “Why not just ban fireworks this year?” Sandy City would likely want to, but that power has been taken from them by the state legislature.
"A few years ago the legislature decided they wanted to allow a broader range of fireworks within the state,” explained City Attorney Lynn Pace. “We've seen a huge increase in the sale and discharge of fireworks the last few years.”
The state only allows cities to create maps of their cities with designated restricted zones for fireworks. However, those zones have to be justified through a set of criteria that’s set by the state. Meaning that Sandy or any other city is limited in how much they can restrict fireworks.
In Sandy, fireworks are restricted in most of the area above 1300 East. The area surrounding the length of Dimple Dell Park is also restricted.
It’s possible for the city to update its restriction map each year, but those updates have to be submitted to the state by May 1, a deadline which city council members said was problematic because extreme heat and drought conditions may not always be apparent that early in the year.
“This is infuriating to me. This is so frustrating that we have our residents reaching out to us and our hands are tied because of the legislature,” said Councilmember Zach Robinson. “If people want to see change, they need to engage their state policy makers.”
Meanwhile, Sandy City will be aggressively enforcing its restrictions.
“The last few years we've been more about educating. But this year we will be issuing citations which are a minimum $500,” Cline said. If residents see their neighbors setting off fireworks in a restricted part of the city, they can call the non-emergency dispatch number, 801-799-3000.
The fire department will also be working overtime, with as many as 16 additional firefighters on call for the days surrounding the Fourth and 24th of July.
“Many of them are coming back early from vacations, not being able to be with their families on the holiday in order to keep our city safe,” Cline said.