I know. I know. You want to be able to light fireworks off with your friends and family this Independence Day. And, let’s be honest, no one is going to stop you. While some cities have heavier fireworks restrictions in place than others, there is no blanket ban on fireworks in Utah (unless you’re on public lands). For the most part, unless your town has unique restrictions, you’re in the clear as long as you light them off during July 2–5 (or July 22-25 for the Pioneer Day holiday).
But just because you can get away with it, should you? It is dry out there. Most of the state is under extreme drought, creating the perfect conditions for wildfires to start and spread quickly.
According to the Bureau of Land Management, already this year, people have started as many as 370 wildfires in Utah. That’s 370 wildfires that could have been prevented. At a press conference on Wednesday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox said 81% of this year’s wildfires, burning through 23,000 acres, were human-caused. Last year, fireworks started 65 wildfires. That does not include firework-caused urban fires.
Many fire chiefs and state and local government leaders are begging members of the public to forgo any personal fireworks this year, rather, imploring them to see a show put on by their community. So, if they’re all so against people lighting off fireworks this year, why not ban it outright?
On that point, the Governor says his hands are tied. At that same press conference, he blamed state law for not giving him the authority to institute a blanket ban on fireworks. Most cities and towns are falling short of an outright ban as well, also pointing to state law prohibiting them from doing so. (The notable exception is Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who has declared a ban on personal fireworks in all of Salt Lake City.) But members of the legislature contest the claim, saying it is, in fact, in the hands of your local municipalities.
While all the finger pointing is a very mature way to handle the situation, it almost feels like no one wants to be on the hook for taking the people’s fireworks away (even during the state’s record drought).
Here’s a list of local fireworks restrictions to see what your town allows and Salt Lake magazine’s story on where you can catch a community fireworks show on July 4, instead of lighting off your own airborne wildfire starters.