Park City officials mull firework ban for residents
June 23, 2015
Once again, Park City officials are erring on the side of caution by "leaning toward" banning fireworks for the upcoming holidays. However, Summit County residents are in the clear.
Hugh Daniels, emergency manager for Park City, said he likely will recommend residents within the city be prohibited from using fireworks for the Fourth of July. Daniels said despite recent rains, the weather forecast for the next several days is expected to stay "hot, dry and windy."
Park City Council members are scheduled to discuss the topic at a meeting on Thursday. They delayed a decision on it last week.
"They chose to continue the ordinance to see what happened with the weather," Daniels said.
City officials could potentially delay the decision again, Daniels said, while watching for changes in the weather. But, he said, staff soon will make a final decision and is "leaning toward recommending the ban."
The county’s six municipalities have the authority to regulate firework use and open burning. But at the county level, fire officials are required to work with the state Division of Forestry when making any decisions.
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Summit County officials say the recent rainfall that has soaked the area within the last month has alleviated potential risks of fires outside of Park City. Officials say they will not seek a ban on fireworks, at least for the Fourth of July.
"Right now, we are just keeping our eye on it," said Tom Fisher, Summit County manager. "We are certainly talking with our partners in Park City and the other municipalities and taking any advice from our experts, but we don’t want to be overly regulatory before we need to be."
Fisher said because conditions in Summit County this year differ slightly different than in recent years and it’s changing the conversation at the county level.
"All the rain we’ve gotten in the past month has made it different," he said. "But, it can change and that’s what everyone is looking at. We take these things very seriously and have seasoned officials who make these judgments. We’re listening to folks at all levels and in all jurisdictions to help us form our policy points on this."
Bryce Boyer, the Summit County fire warden, said the vegetation’s moisture content is "probably three times more than what it should be at this time of the year."
Paul Hewitt, Park City Fire District Chief, said he understands the city "erring on the side of safety," especially considering the last several years in which Park City has enacted bans because of drought-like conditions.
"We’ve had some really bad seasons that have caused everyone to be gun-shy," Hewitt said. "But the fuels are pretty wet and the fire danger is pretty low right now."
North Summit Fire Chief Ken Smith supports Boyer and Hewitt’s position. Smith said since this year has been "super wet and everything has been pretty green," it’s a "totally different world" compared to last year.
"Through the fourth, we’ll let them use them and then go ahead see what happens," Smith said.
Officials say they don’t expect to revisit a ban on fireworks for the unincorporated areas of Summit County until mid-July. Fireworks are permitted on four occasions: the Fourth of July, Pioneer Day, New Year’s Eve and the Chinese New Year. They can be used three days before and three days after teach of those holidays.
Chris Cowley, Summit County emergency manager, said officials are chiefly concerned with just the two summer events.
"We are by no means writing off the fire danger," Cowley said. "We want to make sure we understand where we are in terms of that danger and we want to be very proactive to address it immediately if it changes."
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