July 1, 2017
Fireworks Safety blog post for LD18Democrats
By David Hoye
Planning to celebrate Fourth of July with a backyard fireworks show? It’s a good idea to check local laws and safety recommendations before lighting any fuses. After all, nobody wants the thrilling “BOOM! and AHHH!” replaced with “BOOM! and OUCH!”
In the not-too-distant past, consumer fireworks were banned in Arizona. But state lawmakers changed things a few years ago and created two annual windows of opportunity for folks to make noise and light up the night sky in celebration of Independence Day and New Year’s Day.
The dates are a bit tricky. According to the Chandler Police Department, certain types of consumer fireworks can be sold each year between May 20 and July 6 and between Dec. 10 and Jan. 3. But the windows to use those fireworks are slightly different: June 24 to July 6 and Dec. 24 to Jan. 3.
Law-abiding citizens will want to note that those roadside stands and grocery store displays make fireworks available for sale weeks before it’s legal to use them.
Another thing to note before your big celebration is where to use fireworks. Typically, fireworks are prohibited on publicly owned property including parks, parking lots, streets, sidewalks and on government property including schools. All that limits fireworks to private property but even there revelers need to make sure to secure permission in advance from the property owner.
So what kinds of fireworks are Ok? First off, the state law allowing the use of consumer fireworks doesn’t apply to “novelty” items such as sparklers or party poppers. But it does regulate things like cylindrical and cone fountains, illuminating torches, wheels, ground spinners and ground sparkling devices. Generally speaking, “consumer fireworks” don’t fly in the air or explode. That means other types of fireworks, such as bottle rockets, M-80s and firecrackers, remain illegal. A handy chart that illustrates all this is maintained by the City of Phoenix. (https://www.phoenix.gov/firesite/Documents/083287.pdf)
What about safety? Ask just a firefighter and you’ll likely get an earful about the dangers fireworks pose to people and pets as well as to the desert environment in which we all live. Many fire agencies opposed both the 2014 law that forced cities and towns to allow consumer fireworks and a failed 2016 bill that would have expanded the use and sale of fireworks.
But others argue that consumer fireworks, if responsibly used, can play an exciting role in just about any Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve celebration. Numerous online sources, including the National Council on Fireworks Safety (http://www.fireworkssafety.org/safety-tips), provide lists of safety tips. A few common recommendations include:
- Know and follow all local fireworks laws and regulations
- A responsible adult should oversee any use of fireworks
- Wear safety glasses
- Children should not be given fireworks or allowed to ignite them
- Light fireworks one at a time and move away quickly
- Use fireworks outdoors away from structures or vehicles
- Keep a source of water handy
- Save alcohol consumption until after the show
- Keep pets away from fireworks
- Make sure your pet has an ID tag in case it runs off
Interested in learning more? A good place to start might be your city’s Website! Here are some handy links: