BY LINDA BENTLEY | OCTOBER 6, 2010
New fireworks law sparks debate over interpretation of ‘safe and sane’
‘How the legislature passed this is beyond me’
CAVE CREEK – The last item on Monday’s council agenda was the first reading of an ordinance, which town attorney Fredda Bisman said was the model ordinance for cities and towns to deal with HB 2246, regulation of fireworks, signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer.
The new law allows the sale and use of permissible consumer fireworks, which includes “ground and hand-held sparkling devices, cylindrical and cone fountains, illuminating torches, wheels, ground spinners, flitter sparklers, toy smoke devices, wire sparklers or dipped sticks, multiple tube fireworks devices and pyrotechnic articles.”
However, the law still prohibits the sale or use of “anything that is designed or intended to rise into the air and explode or to detonate in the air including bottle rockets, sky rockets, missile-type rockets, helicopters, torpedoes, roman candles and jumping jacks.”
It prohibits sales to persons under the age of 16 and further regulation of the use of permissible consumer fireworks by a governing body, except that an incorporated city or town may regulate the use within its corporate limits.
Rural/Metro Fire Chief John Kraetz explained the new law, which goes into effect Dec. 1, 2010, and said it does not allow the town to ban the sale of permissible fireworks, although it allows the town to ban the use.
Kraetz also stated there are numerous regulations regarding sales and said many businesses in Cave Creek would not meet the requirements. For example, he said if a gas pump at Circle K is closer than 50 feet from the door, they wouldn’t be permitted to sell fireworks.
Councilman Steve LaMar asked Bisman, “Is this as strict as it can be?”
Bisman said it was.
Kraetz said he agreed with LaMar and stated, “How the legislature passed this is beyond me.”
He said a sparkler burns at 1,800 to 3,000 degrees and dropping one on the ground in Cave Creek during the summer could have devastating effects.
Kraetz said when the ordinance comes back for a second reading it would include language similar to the stupid motorist law that would require anyone who starts a fire by illegally using fireworks to pay for the damage and/or cost of responding to incident.
During public comment, Sara Sparman, representing TNT Fireworks, said, “This legislation has been around for approximately 15 years,” and stated there was no opposition to HB 2246.
According to Sparman, Arizona is one of the last states to pass a “safe and sane” fireworks act. She said the language was originally drafted to require the minimum age to be 18. However, she said the legislature lowered it to 16.
Kraetz said there was nothing safe or sane about the bill and stated, on Independence Day alone, over 3,000 injuries were reported by emergency rooms just from sparklers.
Sparman countered by saying emergency rooms see a spike in all sorts of incidents during holidays, such as bicycle accidents.
Convinced this was as strict as the town could be, council voted unanimously to pass the first reading of the ordinance to ban the use of fireworks within its corporate limits.