Park City enacts a ban on fireworks for Fourth of July
Restriction is in effect until rescinded
June 23, 2017
Park City staffers on Thursday enacted a ban on fireworks, citing concerns about the city's susceptibility to wildfires. However, firework lovers in unincorporated areas of Summit County are in the clear.
Hugh Daniels, emergency manager for Park City, said the city "tends to be more conservative" than the county when considering restricting fireworks and open flames.
"It's getting drier and hotter," Daniels said. "A fire in Park City would be a huge disaster, especially economically, so we have always taken a slightly more conservative view of it than the fire warden and Fire District. But, we are fine with that and we will stick by our decision."
The Park City Council passed an ordinance last year giving City Hall's chief building official the administrative authority to prohibit the personal use of fireworks. David Thacker, chief building official, on Thursday enacted the ban after consulting with Daniels, the Park City Fire District, Chief of Police Wade Carpenter and Park City Fire Marshal Kurt Simister.
"We are in the wildland interface zone and we have seen the conditions across the state that are similar to what we are experiencing here and the conditions are right for a fire right now in our area," Simister said. "The current atmospheric conditions show low humidity, high temperatures and a lot of fuel growth from our very good, wet winter."
As of Thursday afternoon, Park City Mountain Resort's annual Fourth of July fireworks display was still scheduled to take place, Simister said. However, he quickly added, "Unless something gets much worse."
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Paul Hewitt, Park City Fire District chief, said he applauds Park City's decision to "err on the side of caution."
"I fully support Park City in taking those precautions," Hewitt said. "Park City municipal understands the massive financial and other impacts wildfires have, so I applaud their efforts at keeping the risk low and protecting the population."
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.
Bryce Boyer, the Summit County fire warden, said he does not anticipate recommending a ban for the unincorporated areas of the county. He said he is not seeing conditions in the county that would currently warrant a ban on open flames and fireworks.
"While we are starting to get to that point, and they are at that point in Southern Utah, we have been pretty light on any kind of fires up here," Boyer said. "But, again, people need to use caution and know that what happens over July 4 will determine what happens on July 24, in terms of a ban."
Pioneer Day, a celebration typically celebrated with fireworks, is July 24. State law allows for class C fireworks, which can be purchased at grocery stores and include sparkers and snakes, to be sold for three days before and after New Year's Day, Chinese New Year, July 4 and July 24.
Boyer said fire crew have responded to approximately 20 calls so far this season, including vehicle fires and burning without a permit.
"We really haven't had anything that we have had to chase," Boyer said. "Everything is staying pretty contained and has been under half an acre. But, again, people need to keep in mind if they start a fire they could be liable for the suppression costs even though there is not a ban or a restriction in place."
County officials say they don't expect to revisit a ban on fireworks for the unincorporated areas of Summit County until after the Fourth of July.