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Freedom from fire

Published June 28, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

With a dangerous wildfire season well under way, and the July Fourth and 24th holidays approaching, it is appropriate to review one of the more bizarre laws passed by the Utah Legislature last March.

Ironically placed in the Public Safety Code, HB289 prohibits counties and municipalities from restricting the discharge of fireworks from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in developed areas from July 1-7 and July 21-27.

One wonders what "public safety" purpose such prohibitions serve. Apparently, the Legislature believed that local governments are too incompetent to determine reasonable time, place and manner restrictions themselves.

Setting aside the Legislature's Big Brother attitude toward subordinate jurisdictions, and its apparent pandering to purveyors of fireworks, the wisdom of preventing local authorities from imposing fireworks restrictions around the July holidays — when fire danger is at its peak — is dubious at best.

Certainly, the use of fireworks to celebrate Independence Day goes back to that holiday's origins. But which is more important, to protect our citizens and tinder-dry environment, or to commemorate our freedoms by dangerous simulations of bombs bursting in air?

Floyd Jensen

Salt Lake City