SANDY, Utah (ABC4) – There is growing confusion over who has the power to implement firework bans in Utah as the Fourth of July is fast approaching.
Social media has only added to the problem, with local and state leaders telling Utahns to go to them with their concerns over the firework restrictions in place. However, the process is complex.
Sandy City Council Member Zach Robinson said his hands are tied in terms of what he has the power to do.
“At a local level, we are hearing from our residents, especially in these extreme drought conditions, that they want us to do more to prevent fires from breaking out in our community,” Robinson said.
Some residents are pushing for a citywide ban, something Robinson says he and his colleagues on the council don’t have the power to do.
“Our legal experts at our city level are telling us we’ve gone as far as we can go in terms of banning fireworks,” Robinson said.
Under the state code, Sandy City can prohibit fireworks east of 1300 E., which they’ve done for years now.
“We’re not looking to ban entertainment or to put people out for the Fourth of July, that’s my favorite holiday. This year is just a different year and I’m looking for the ability to protect the community that I serve and love.”
That’s why he’s asking state lawmakers to allow some flexibility in the code instead of just banning them in the highest-risk areas.
“What I’m looking for is to just collaborate with our policy makers and get us all on the same page,” Robinson said.
However, a change in the state code is going to take time.
“If you want to change the law moving forward for next year, you should contact the state legislature. If you want to make sure proper restrictions are in place for next week, you should contact your city councilor and mayor,” State Senator Todd Weiler said.
Weiler said city councils and mayors have the power to ban fireworks in the highest risk areas.
However, he claims some city leaders are using the drought as a way to advance their political agendas.
“There are some city council members that want to ban fireworks in every square inch of their city. They want that power and they’re frustrated that the legislature has only given them the power to do it in certain areas,” Weiler said.
While he agrees the legislature went too far in allowing aerial fireworks on days before and after the holiday, he argues that they’re banned where it is needed.
There is one thing those at the state and local levels agree on, and that is shooting off fireworks is not a good idea this year.
Utahns are encouraged to let the professionals handle the fireworks this year.