Last week, I checked in with the Utah state fire marshal. This is a wise policy if anything you've done including stuff you forgot about may have evolved into a criminal summons.
Considering how at odds our chosen professions sometimes put us, Fire Marshal Brent Halladay was remarkably pleasant when he answered the phone.
Him: "What exploded now?"
Me: "Nothing. I mean there's no fire or anything."
I explained to Brent that I called to find out how much trouble I COULD be in if I continued hanging around Sonny. Answer: A lot. And it's all thanks to the weather.
Utah is dry enough to set on fire with a bit of acid reflux. We're a nitwit and a bottle rocket away from being toast.
This is bad news as we enter fireworks season. Somewhere in Wyoming, there lurks an as-of-yet-unsold firework that will usher in our apocalypse. Unless, of course, we repent and change our ways.
But repentance is tough. I know. I've tried it. I like temptation better. So do most guys when it comes to fireworks.
Short of being promoted at work, nothing makes a guy stupider faster than fireworks. Research has shown that merely holding an unlit firecracker in his hand will instantly lop 50 points off a guy's IQ 100 points if he's a teenager.
Understand that I am not running down my own gender here. Women also have their own destructive and hideously expensive obsession: babies.
Oh, shut up. Wildfires have a beginning and an end. Even a huge fire will eventually burn itself out and stop costing you money. Kids won't.
Not only will a kid fry everything you have, eventually it will want you to pay for what it plans to fry for a living. Then, if you're really unlucky, it will come back and fry the same ground it burned before.
Where were we? Oh, yeah. Fireworks. They're dangerous. Especially right now when the state is so flammable.
I asked Brent if there was a statewide ban on fireworks. There isn't. Believe it or not, there are still places where it's OK to tempt our flammable fate.
First, the places you can't. All federal lands in Utah are under a no-burn status. It's against the law to have an open campfire, smoke outside your vehicle or ignite fireworks there.
Second, the same thing is true of all state-owned lands. It's illegal to have any kind of open flame in a state forest, state park, state picnic ground or state weed patch.
These closures effectively cover 90 percent of every square inch of Utah. And they're strict. You could, if standing on one of those inches, go to jail just for imagining fireworks.
This leaves the incorporated areas of the state: cities, towns, communities, etc. But even these have serious restrictions regarding location, times and size of explosive.
I called the city office in the town where I live. As you might expect from government, I was referred to a website where I could find most of the information I would need to stay out of fireworks jail.
After much study, I now know it is legal for me to throw snappers against the side of my car at midnight the day after Chinese New Year.
In the end, Brent and I agreed that Utah would be much safer this fire season if everyone would just use common sense.
Yeah, we thought that was hilarious, too.