ST. GEORGE – City officials adopted annual fireworks restrictions Thursday for the summer season. While the threat of fires potentially triggered by fireworks is often highlighted as the 4th of July approaches, fire officials have noted that firework-triggered fires have also been going down.
“It’s very hot out there and we’ve had several fires already, including the one on the Black Hill,” St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said while addressing the council. “We want to keep (the fires) as minimal as possible and still allow fireworks.”
Within the city of St. George, fireworks can’t be used within 250 feet of dry washes and drainage, river and stream corridors, hillsides, plateaus and mesa tops, and undeveloped open space or natural terrain.
A map showing the areas where fireworks are and are not allowed to be used will accompany the restrictions and will be posted on the city website. However, it had yet to be posted as of Thursday night. See the map featured in this story as a reference.
Fireworks are not the only items impacted by the restrictions, Stoker said. It also includes the use of lighters, matches, sky lanterns and smoking materials within the restricted zones.
Mayor Jon Pike asked the fire chief how compliance with the fireworks restriction has been among city residents, to which Stoker said, “It’s been really well received.”
While there will still be fires caused by fireworks here and there, overall, the number of those instances has been going down in recent years, Stoker said.
“Fireworks (restrictions) had been really successful as far as compliance of the last few years so, our fires are down this time of year,” he said.
State law allows fireworks to be used three days before and after the 4th and 24th of July.
If someone is found to have caused a fire through fireworks, they are subject to court-imposed fees and the cost of fire suppression, Stoker said.
While speaking with St. George News earlier this week concerning penalties for human-caused fires, Stoker broke down the hourly cost of calling out a fire engine and fire fighters.
A single fire engine can run $198, while a ladder truck runs $210 an hour. As for the personnel, a single firefighter can run $36 an hour. So, if a fire engine is called out to a fire for an hour and brings six firefighters, the cost of that single hour will run $414.
However, as fire calls often draw multiple fire trucks and a swarm of firefighters who may remain on scene for multiple hours, that price tag easily skyrockets.
Anyone who starts a fire may also find they are facing responsibility for the cost of any damage done to personal property via a civil suit from a property owner, Stoker said.
As for the city of St. George, Stoker said, the city is rather aggressive in going after people who start fires.
“We just ask everyone to be safe in what they’re doing,” he added.
Among other business conducted by the council Thursday:
The council approved seasonal mandatory watering restrictions on the city’s culinary water system. The policy bans outdoor watering between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The ban will remain in effect until September or October, depending on conditions.
The council unanimously approved a one-year extension to the city’s contract with City Manager Gary Esplin. This was a rare instance in which the mayor was able to vote along with the council.
Councilman Ed Baca said he was impressed with Esplin’s longstanding service to the city over the years. Esplin, who has served as the city manager for 41 years, said he was grateful for the council’s continued confidence in him.
The City Council approved the city’s $218 million 2017-18 budget.
The amount of volunteers at the Switchpoint Community Resource Center has plateaued, Councilman Jimmie Hughes said. Switchpoint wouldn’t be able to do as much as it currently does without its volunteers, he said.
Ed. Note: An error concerning the total dolloar amount a single fire engine and six firefighters would cost for an hour’s time of fire suppression efforts has been corrected.
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