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Utah lawmakers pass bill reducing fireworks days for July holidays

The Utah House passed a bill Wednesday that would reduce the number of days around the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day that fireworks would be legal in the state.

HB38 allows fireworks two days before July 4 and July 24, and one day after, a total of eight days around those two holidays. Current law allows 14 total days around those two holidays.

Fireworks would remain legal on New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year. The measure does not ban aerial fireworks. It would give local governments the right to restrict fireworks in hazardous areas but does not permit an outright ban.

Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, called his bill, which passed the House 69-3, a good compromise among police and fire departments, cities, counties, fireworks sellers and residents.

State and local officials received numerous complaints last July over fireworks disrupting neighborhoods and causing fires.

In July, there were 1,100 reported fires statewide, and 180 of which — 16 percent — were ignited by fireworks. In Salt Lake County, fireworks started 50 — or 12 percent — of all blazes that month.

Referencing a 200-acre, fireworks-caused blaze near her home last summer, Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, tried to amend the bill to allow cities to completely ban fireworks. Dunnigan argued all cities should play by the same rules. The amendment failed.
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The legislation would give local governments more ability to ban fireworks within 200 feet of canyons, parks, trails, ravines and washes. It also increases the fine for lighting fireworks in restricted areas to $1,000. It calls for fireworks stands to display the new law and maps of restricted areas.

Dunnigan called on Utahns to be good neighbors when it comes to fireworks, to obey the law and not set them off in the early morning hours. He said that would accomplish more than anything else.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
-Deseret News