County passes firework ban
At an emergency meeting Monday afternoon, the Summit County Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of fireworks and open fires during the 2012 fire season. The ordinance also discourages the use of certain ammunition in Summit County.
The Council, along with the county’s three fire districts, decided to ban the use of fireworks in all unincorporated areas of the county due to the forecasted dry, windy weather expected to continue until October.
Ordinance 52-4-202, which received unanimous approval, defines local fire conditions as "high risk" and will remain in effect through October 1. The ordinance prohibits all Class ‘C’ fireworks which includes most of those that residents can purchase at a store such as firecrackers, cannon crackers, salute, cherry bombs, bottle rockets, skyrockets, roman candles or any other similar types.
According to Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt, the ordinance does not ban fireworks like sparklers or class A or B fireworks that are used in large, permitted public displays conducted in Oakley and at Park City Resort and Canyons over the July 4 holiday.
"We have had 60 fires so far in Summit County and while we can’t control ammunition or sparkler use, we just need to rely on the citizens to be our best defense against a huge fire," Hewitt said. "We have talked to all the agencies in the area and everyone has put their two cents in and agreed this ordinance is the best idea."
County Council member Dave Ure said that the other cities in Summit County, including Park City and Coalville, are being urged to pass similar ordinances in the next week or two. The Park City Council is scheduled to vote on a firework ordinance on Thursday.
"We will be meeting with the mayors and strongly encouraging this," Ure said. "I am not one to pass an ordinance and try to have control over people’s lives, and I know a lot of people will be disappointed this summer. But better to have people be disappointed than lose lives in a fire."
Ure added that the ordinance is not intended to stop large firework shows like those set off at the ski resorts during July 4 and on Pioneer Day since they have permits and fire trucks on standby.
The emergency meeting was called by Summit County Manager Bob Jasper after he spoke with Utah Governor Gary Herbert on Friday evening.
"He urged us to have set rules and limits in mind for fireworks this summer," Jasper said. "I met with Park City Fire District and Utah Wildland Fires and we went through all of the plans and decided this was best. We are hopeful that nothing happens but are gearing up for the worst. We have evacuation plans and are as ready as possible."
According to Jasper, the county does not have the power to ban certain ammunitions but the ordinance strongly discourages jacketed bullets, incendiary bullets and tracer bullets.
Hewitt and Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer said that their biggest concern isn’t a brush fire, but a huge fire on a steep slope near homes that is difficult to contain, spreads quickly and could affect the economy of the county for years to come.
Fireworks will still be sold in stores and Park City Police Chief Phil Kirk said it is not illegal to buy fireworks, only to use them. The Park City Fire Department, Park City Police and Summit County Sheriff deputies will be patrolling from July 1 to the 7 to make sure residents are following the ordinance. If someone is caught setting off a banned firework, it is a Class B misdemeanor and punishable with up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Nearly a dozen Park City and Summit County officials sat on a public panel Wednesday to outline the way forward on wildfire management and to answer questions from residents.