Firefighters warn of dangers of fireworks on first day Utahns can legally light them

Posted at 6:49 PM, Jul 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-02 00:18:28-04

SANDY, Utah -- Fireworks stands are now open and bustling with buyers. Starting July 1, Utahns can legally set off sparklers, but where you can set them off depends on where you live.

Three years ago, state law changed and allowed Utahns to set off aerial fireworks, and what looks harmless in the packaging can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Tyler Talbot with TNT Fireworks in Sandy, which is local company that distributes fireworks to six states including Utah, said fireworks can be fun if done safely.

"Make sure that when you set them down you get something around them so they don't fall over because they have quite a bit of force when they go up in the air,” he said.

The big boom is loud enough sometimes to startle just about anyone. When setting off fireworks, make sure you're at a safe distance away—which is at least 15 feet.

Also, have a fire extinguisher, hose and bucket of water handy. That's where you'll need to dunk used fireworks overnight.

"What will happen is people will hose it down, put it in their garbage, and it still a little hot in there and they don't know and then fire," Talbot said.

Fire is what officials are trying to avoid. Sandy, along with Salt Lake City, Layton, and Park City just to name a few, is making sure the public knows there are fireworks restrictions in place this year because of the brittle conditions.

"Everything above 2700 East is the approximate address that no fireworks are allowed this season due to the fact that that is where the majority of our 3,600 acres of wild land urban interface actually exists," said Battalion Chief Robert Dekorver of the Sandy City Fire Department.

Utahns can legally light-off fireworks three days before a holiday, the day of and then three days after. That's seven days firefighters have to worry about. People purchasing sparklers say safety is always a priority for them.

"We try to make sure that we're in a large kind of asphalt area, no dry brush around with a giant bucket of water," said Jacob Hansen while at a local fireworks stand in Sandy.

"We make sure all the kids stay back on the grass, there's just a few older kids, teenagers, that light them,” Alyson Barker said. “We have a bucket of water, hose nearby that's how we try to stay safe.”

Sandy City officials said if they catch anyone lighting off fireworks in restricted areas, first they issue a warning, and then it's a $500 fine, which is a Class C misdemeanor. If you start a fire, you may be legally and financially liable for the firefighting costs and damage.

Related story: Fire Marshal outlines when, where fireworks may be discharged