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House panel agrees on reducing window for legal fireworks

Published January 24, 2012 6:24 pm

2012 Legislature • The proposed changes would reduce the time they're allowed to be set off.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Police and fire officials testified before a House committee Tuesday that Utah's new fireworks law was so unpopular with residents that they were inundated with complaints about the pyrotechnics being launched at all hours for almost an entire month.

So Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, proposed changes the committee liked and HB33 passed 13-0.

"Hopefully this modification in the law will make their lives easier," Dunnigan said.

The proposal would roll back the dates fireworks can be launched to a seven-day window surrounding the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day. So, HB33 would allow fireworks to be detonated July 1-7 and July 21-27.

Currently, the law allows residents to launch fireworks for an entire month between June 26 and July 26. Dunnigan changed the law in the last session as a way to simplify the time frames for sales and the launching of fireworks by making the sale period the same as the launch period.

He said the larger window did result in about $500,000 in tax revenues for local governments.

But Utah State Fire Marshall Brent Halladay said the time frame coupled with the state's loosened restrictions on repeating aerial fireworks and larger cakes was resulting in similar cries of outrage from people.

"It was the three 'L's,' " Halladay said. "Too long, too loud and too late."

Ogden City fire Chief Mike Mathieu also supported a standardized cut off time for the launch of fireworks, which Dunnigan set as 11 p.m. — except for 1 a.m. for New Year's Day. The law also covers the Chinese New Year, which began Monday.

dmontero@sltrib.com

Twitter: @davemontero