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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Fireworks Are On Sale. But How Will Restrictions And Bans Impact Business?

A photo of a parking lot tent that sells TNT fireworks.
Lexi Peery
Orion T Parker’s tent in St. George. He said he understands why cities are banning fireworks, even though it could impact his business.

Fireworks are on sale in Utah just in time for summer holidays, but it comes as cities set restrictions and bans on the celebratory explosives because of the historic drought.

Orion T Parker has sold fireworks for three years in a Smith’s parking lot in St. George. He’s decorated it with flags and street signs, and even brought in a swamp cooler in an attempt to keep customers cool.

Parker said he doesn’t know what to expect in sales this year — there are pandemic-related supply issues and there’s been a renewed focus on the explosives and wildfires.

He said he understands the reasoning behind the restrictions municipalities are putting in place and he tries to educate all of his customers about using the products safely. But being a fireworks vendor is a monetary boost for him.

“I am all about promoting that safety because I want people to celebrate their freedoms, but I don't want them to be silly about it,” Parker said. “I'd love to see the fires go down this year in a big way because of people's responsibility, not because fireworks weren't sold as much.”

Parker usually watches fireworks at a park in LaVerkin, which is near his home in Hurricane. However, both cities have banned fireworks so he said this year he’ll be in St. George, where they’re legal.

James Fuller is safety expert with TNT Fireworks, a national distributor with locations throughout Utah. He said they’re advocating for people to use common sense, but they’re against sweeping bans.

“We're going to do everything we can to work through this,” Fuller said. “If that means we have to file a lawsuit, that's what we're going to have to do.”

When it comes to supply, Fuller said Utah could be down 30% of available products. Still, he doesn’t expect things to change long- term for sellers.

“We think as an industry that fireworks are just about as American as hot dogs, apple pie and baseball,” Fuller said. “We don't see it leaving any time soon, we think this tradition will continue.”

Personal fireworks can be set off July 2-5 in approved areas. They’re not allowed on any state, federal or unincorporated land.

Here are some tips to light off fireworks safely, according to the Utah Fire Marshal’s website.

  • Use them outdoors in designated areas only.
  • Always have water handy and soak fireworks thoroughly after use.
  • Never relight “dud” fireworks.
  • Don’t use homemade or illegal explosives and only use fireworks as intended.
Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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