Monday, June 30, 2008

DesNews and Me: Ban Fireworks

The Deseret News has an editorial today that I would like to echo.

In coming days, some area fire authorities will announce fireworks restrictions for the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day holidays. The restrictions are common sense public safety measures because Utah is one of the most arid states in the nation. Given enough tinder-dry fuel, a single spark can quickly become an inferno.

Given that, why should fire authorities have to declare these limitations every summer? Why not pass a law banning the sale of fireworks for personal use, which cause most of these fires?

Utah has conducted this strange dance between free enterprise and public safety long enough. Between the burden of accidentally setting fires and the risks of severe injuries from fireworks, there's no upside to private fireworks, let alone the illegal fireworks brought into the state.

Over the years, Utah has banned the more dangerous types of fireworks. That makes sense on a lot of levels, but it does not eliminate the possibility of an errant spark igniting a fire.

At the same time, professional displays put on by municipalities or private organizations have become increasingly spectacular. If the family wants to see fireworks, there are literally dozens of such displays in Utah between the two July holidays. They're breathtaking, and the risk is limited to the professionals who conduct the shows.

Interestingly, many Utahns view setting off fireworks as a right. Each time a Deseret News editorial broaches the subject, readers typically respond in one of two ways: They view any suggested ban as an infringement of their personal freedoms, or they support a year-round ban on fireworks because of the risk of injury and fires. We maintain the latter trumps the former.

It strikes us as odd that for the majority of the year fireworks are illegal, presumably for the hazards they pose. But at the time of year when temperatures are hottest and plant life parched, they're OK, within certain parameters.

Existing restrictions vary by fire district or jurisdiction. An all-out state ban would alleviate that confusion. It also would curb injuries and reduce the workload of firefighting agencies.

For some, setting off fireworks is a cherished family tradition. Wouldn't families be better served by traditions that keep their loved ones safe and that protect property from harm?

Private legal fireworks are anticlimactic. You can only watch sparks fly into the air for so long.

And for those who say that this is passing a law to protect you from yourself, I say you're wrong. It's protecting me from your idiocy. Just think of the tax money spent fighting fires, both in wilderness and house fires.

I spoke up on this last year. I'll probably do it again next year, too.


P.S. for those of you that are going to call me an anti-American, just remember that fireworks are Chinese, and the Chinese are communists. So there.


Lorraine Carli said...

Thanks for putting this piece in. We agree ... there is no safe way to use consumer fireworks. Check out a couple of new public service announcements at\fireworks that show why consumer fireworks aren't worth the risk

Cameron said...

I fail to see how setting off a few fireworks on a suburban street is going to cause wildfires.

Bob said...


The problem with my trying to write while not getting enough sleep is I tend to forget to write things.

Not only do fireworks tend to start fires (and not just wildfires -- my neighbor started a small fire in his garage a few years ago lighting "flowers" on the street), but they are also very harmful to our already bad air quality.


Anonymous said...

Wow Bob! Stop looking at life with boring practical view. People look forward to fireworks every year and it brings people
together. Fun isn't always practical but people need it. Also, fireworks are the icon of the most important American holiday, the celebration of its exsitence. We celebrate America with fireworks like we have done forever. Taking away fireworks wouldn't be anti-American but un-American.

P.S. Sparks in the air are amusing to watch :) and if your scared about air quality, focus on bigger things.

Bob said...

I like the big displays that are done professionally.

And if you enjoy the fireworks you can by here in Utah, you are REALLY lacking for entertainment...