House gives preliminary OK to some fireworks - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

House gives preliminary OK to some fireworks

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Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009 7:52 pm | Updated: 12:34 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

You may soon be able to play with sparklers, fountain fireworks and other such items. But you may have to go to a county island, Gold Canyon or on the road to Globe to do it.

You may soon be able to play with sparklers, fountain fireworks and other such items.

But you may have to go to a county island, Gold Canyon or on the road to Globe to do it.

Legislation given preliminary House approval Thursday would make these non-explosive devices legal in the state. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said there is no reason to deny Arizona residents a right that exists in most other states.

And he pointed out that the measure keeps the door shut on the things that can actually explode. Rockets that shoot into the air also would remain legally forbidden.

Despite that, Biggs still had an uphill fight, what with opposition from various fire departments concerned about the risk of starting a conflagration in the dry desert climate. So Biggs, in hopes of minimizing opposition, agreed to allow cities and towns to opt out of the law.

That, however, did not satisfy everyone.

Rep. Tom Chabin, D-Flagstaff, said most of the state, at least from a geographic standpoint, is not within city limits.

"I would point to areas of northern Arizona: Munds Park, Kachina Village, Bellemont area east of Williams, west of Flagstaff. I could certainly point to numerous area in Yavapai County, Navajo County," he argued. He said those areas - many of them with large stands of trees - would remain vulnerable to fire caused by someone being careless.

Biggs told Chabin he was worrying unnecessarily. He said workers for the U.S. Forest Service already have the ability to ban open fires during dry periods. Biggs said that also should allow them to ban sparklers.

Chabin responded that this would be fine for some areas of the state, but he said there are vast stretches that are not within national forests, where no one would be able to restrict these items even in extreme drought.

Biggs, however, was unconvinced that each of the state's 15 counties should be able to set their own rules.

"You have the potential of getting a whole bunch of different types of amendments added onto this thing causing all types of confusion to everyone involved," he said.

Even if cities ban the use of sparklers, their residents would not necessarily have to go hunting for them: The opt-out provision covers only lighting them; cities could not ban their sale.

HB2258 needs a final roll-call vote before going to the Senate.

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