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Fireworks Get Discussions Popping On Statewide Ban, Other Tweaks


Another big fireworks holiday has arrived in Utah, and people are talking about it.

To some, it’s a matter of tradition and celebrating our nation and state. To others, it’s a health and safety hazard that should be left in the hands of professionals.

Steven Seftel, a small businessman who lives in Sugar House, is one of thousands of Utahns calling on leaders to ban personal fireworks.

“I think a fireworks ban is absolutely necessary in Utah,” he says, “because I don’t think as a society people in our state are very good at self-regulation.”

Choking air pollution. Safety hazards. Trauma to pets. Noise. The risk of setting homes and wildlands afire. Reasons like those have many calling for banning fireworks statewide.

That was the finding in polls by Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and Salt Lake City State Rep. Joel Briscoe, both Democrats.

About 200 KUER listeners participated in a small, informal poll. And, in general, they strongly agree with restrictions. Many of them were happy to leave professionals to handle pyrotechnical celebrations, like Pioneer Day festivities at Liberty Park in downtown Salt Lake.

“I’m also hearing from people who love to do their fireworks, and they’re saying don’t change the fireworks law,” says Rep. Jim Dunnigan R-Taylorsville. “So, I’m hearing from both sides.”

He led the move a few years ago to make more kinds of fireworks legal in Utah and to allow them for the month between Independence Day and Pioneer Day. Lawmakers have made changes since then to limit personal fireworks to two weeks in July.

And Dunnigan says being considerate and following current law would go a long way to addressing the problems.

“Really, no matter what law we pass,” he says, “some of it’s going to come down to enforcement.”

But Dunnigan agrees it might be time to revisit the restrictions again. He wouldn’t say what he has in mind, but at least three other lawmakers have their own ideas for changes.

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