CEDAR CITY — Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips has advice for residents who want to light off fireworks during the upcoming July holidays: “Wait until New Year’s.”
The Cedar City Council unanimously approved a joint and several liability agreement between the city and the Iron County School District at its meeting last week, restricting the number of locations citizens are allowed to light off fireworks during July.
“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should,” Phillips said.
According to the liability agreement, the locations where fireworks are legal to be detonated are the south parking lot of Cedar High School, the parking lot at the Bicentennial Softball Park, the south parking lot of Canyon View High School, the west parking lot of the Cedar City Aquatic Center and the parking lot at Iron Springs Elementary School.
“They’re going to light them off anyway, so we’re trying to give people a safe outlet to shoot their fireworks,” Phillips said.
As per Utah code, fireworks may only be set off July 2-5 and July 22-25 during the hours between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. The two exceptions to those stated times are July 4 and July 24, when the hours are extended to midnight.
“We’re asking people that want to shoot off fireworks to please go to these areas that we’ve set aside,” Phillips said, adding that all normal safety precautions should be observed.
“Adults should handle the fireworks; don’t let kids get them because they will set them off,” Phillips said. “When you go to the allowed locations, we suggest you have a 5-gallon bucket of water to douse those fireworks with once you’ve detonated them.”
He added that each location will provide dumpsters for disposal of fireworks refuse.
“After you light them, dispose of them properly in the dumpsters,” he said.
Fireworks stands will have posted maps indicating where the allowed locations are.
Phillips said while many people think of fireworks as the huge aerials and grand finales of elaborate shows, smaller fireworks like sparklers, smoke bombs and firecrackers are equally capable of starting fires or injuring people.
“Sparklers frequently cause burns, if children are standing barefoot when they light them or if they touch them while they’re burning,” Phillips said.
He added that frequent injuries occur when people try to light off “duds,” fireworks that do not ignite on their first lighting and have much shorter fuses.
With July 4 falling on a Sunday this year, fireworks use is expected on Saturday and Monday as well, meaning the fire department will have its hands full more than usual.
“We’ll have our normal full crew that’s on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Phillips said. “And then we’re bringing in additional volunteers and overtime crew to be on the trucks on the Fourth and the 24th.”
With extreme drought, extended heat waves and more strain on dwindling water supplies, this year’s July holidays are cause for extra caution.
“Historically the Fourth of July is one of the very hottest and driest days of the year,” Phillips said. “This year there is no moisture; it’s just super dry, and it’s caused everyone to take a second look at using fireworks.”
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