Do cities have the authority to ban fireworks?

Local News

DRAPER, Utah (ABC4) – With the Fourth of July just days away, several firework stands are set up and ready for a boost in sales. However, city-wide bans and high fire danger are making for another financially tough year.  

Firework sales started in Utah five days ago and the turnout at some local stands has been underwhelming. With some stands getting less business this year compared to last, some believe lawsuits may be on the horizon.  

Dave Davis is the president of the Utah Retail Merchants Association and was involved in the negotiations over what authority cities have to implement firework bans.  

“Anytime that you go after someone’s livelihood like that, I think that there is a possibility that they could pursue a legal course,” Davis said.  

Davis claims the legislature was very careful and meticulous in granting cities the authority to be able to restrict fireworks. He argues that they give cities the tools to respond to local needs, but they also didn’t want to give them the ability to ban fireworks all together.  

“I feel pretty confident in saying the legislature was very clear with their intent,” Davis said.  

As more Utah cities impose all-out bans of personal fireworks, Davis believes they’re putting themselves in legal jeopardy.  

“You have to remember there are firework manufacturers, there are nonprofits that have set up tents and are relying on this revenue and they’re being told literally days before they can go live with selling that ‘there will be no discharge within this city.’ 

While he acknowledges that there’s a heightened risk of fires starting, he believes city-wide bans violate the statute. ABC4 asked Davis if the Utah Retail Merchants Association plans on creating a lawsuit. He said they are not.  

“We are not planning any particular lawsuits. If those lawsuits come, they’ll likely come from individual manufacturers or associations that represent the fireworks industry specifically,” Davis said.  

Davis is asking those who choose to set off fireworks to be extraordinarily careful this year because of the conditions the state is in.  

Stefan Burgoyne works at a Phantom stand outside of Smith’s in Draper. He said his stand is seeing 10 people or less come in per day, compared to around 50 that they’re used to seeing. 

“Most of the sales the last couple of days… it makes you a little nervous when you’ve made hardly any sales and there’s only three days left,” Burgoyne said. “ 

He said he is hoping business picks up as the holiday nears. But in the meantime, the stand is using an educational approach to protect their business in the future.  

“By helping people know where they can launch them and be safe and not cause fires, it helps us to be able to come back next year and legislation is not stopping people from enjoying them or stopping us from being able to sell them,” Burgoyne said.  

The stand has several maps clearly outlining where you can use fireworks in the city. If people plan on using them elsewhere, they also have a county map that will show them exactly where they can set them off.  

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