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Fireworks and fires

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Neighborhood children light off fireworks in Salt Lake County in July 2007.

Neighborhood children light off fireworks in Salt Lake County in July 2007.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

With a dangerous wildfire season well underway, and the July 4 and 24 holidays approaching, it is appropriate to review one of the more bizarre laws passed by the Utah Legislature during the bleak winter days of the last session. Ironically placed in the Public Safety Code, HB289, among other things, prohibits counties and municipalities from restricting the discharge of fireworks in developed areas during certain hours from July 1-7 and July 21-27.

One wonders, of course, 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.

But 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