This Fourth of July, Coloradans should think twice about firing off bottle rockets and mortars, as many cities and counties throughout the state have fire restrictions in effect or other regulations that prohibit personal firework usage.
Injuring thousands in the United States and starting upwards of 19,500 fires each year, fireworks pose a safety threat, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Amid ongoing dry conditions this summer, many counties have fire restrictions in place that prohibit firework usage in areas where it’s not already banned.
“I honestly find it annoying that we can’t really shoot any fireworks on the Fourth,” said Jason Newman, 28, a Broomfield resident. “But I guess it isn’t that big a deal.”
Per state law, the handling, possession or use of illegal fireworks is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor and violators can be met with fines up to a maximum of $750 and sometimes even six months of imprisonment.
Any fireworks that explode or leave the ground are illegal across the state, and while Colorado has its own comprehensive list of illegal and legal fireworks, each local municipality has the ability to restrict fireworks even further if they see the need.
Officials throughout Denver, Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Boulder and Broomfield counties have such bans in effect.
North Metro Fire says that, in Northglenn and Broomfield, sparklers, trick noisemakers, toy caps and toy smoke devices are all permissible this Fourth of July, though they still recommend that “residents leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend one of the free fireworks shows in the area.”
On Monday, professional shows will be taking place in the afternoon and evening in Broomfield, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster, among other locations along the Front Range.
“Not to be the fun police, but these dry conditions put everyone at risk for grass fires that can spread easily. Please don’t use fireworks this #4thOfJuly. Watch one of the professional shows, or try some fun alternatives we share on our website. Be a good neighbor!” North Metro Fire said in a recent tweet.
Adams County allows “permissible fireworks” under state law and Douglas County has implemented Stage 1 fire restrictions, which prohibit open burning of any kind, including fireworks.
Similarly, Boulder County also has Stage 1 fire restrictions in place. Each incorporated city and town inside Boulder County is allowed to determine its own firework restrictions, though most have complete, year-round bans, according to Carrie Haverfield, a spokesperson for the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
“The bottom-line messaging that we are telling folks is: Leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend a local fireworks show,” Haverfield said.
In Denver, the fire department is asking residents to refrain from fireworks usage altogether.
“Fireworks in the city and county of Denver are illegal,” Greg Pixley, a spokesman for the Denver Fire Department, said in a recent news conference. “Oftentimes we get questions as, ‘Is it not my right or privilege to shoot off fireworks during Independence Day?’ And again, the Denver Fire Department re-emphasizes that any fireworks in the city and county of Denver is illegal. It’s not a right. It’s not a privilege. We as a community must work together to ensure that our family, our friends, our neighbors, are safe.”
Many of the fire restrictions in place throughout the state are preventive measures to try and combat wildfires.
According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, widespread drought and “abnormally dry conditions” are affecting much of the state as of June.
On June 1, Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown scaled back fire restrictions from Stage 2 to Stage 1 for “the areas of unincorporated Arapahoe County, Centennial, Foxfield and Deer Trail,” according to Ginger Delgado, a spokesperson for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.
Stage 1 restrictions, like in other counties, still prohibit the use of fireworks.
Any firework legal under state law is permissible when a fire restriction or ban is not in effect in Jefferson County, though Karlyn Tilley, a spokesperson for the Jefferson Country Sheriff’s Office, said that, “If someone sets off illegal fireworks, they are subject to criminal charges.”
“I don’t mind a firework ban,” Kelly Wittmer, 63, a Boulder resident said. “I’d rather have a Fourth of July without fireworks than a quarter of the year with smoke in the sky.”
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