I remember the year vividly. We were doing our annual 4th of July fireworks in our circle with neighbors gathered. My neighbor… we will call him “Frank” to protect his identity, brought forward his homemade mortar – complete with his self-built mortar launcher. Frank lit the fuse and we watched as the mortar launcher tipped over, sending the mortar shooting into the road and making the loudest explosion that has ever graced our little neighborhood fireworks party. It was so scary! What if a car had driven past right then? What if it tipped the other way and shot towards one of our homes, or worse yet towards all of us where we were all sitting with our kids?
Accidents with fireworks happen all the time. They can be made worse when you invite Frank to the party and he brings his homemade pyrotechnic creation, but still… they happen. Combine that with the dry brush from this year’s drought, and we have intense risk.
My brother-in-law used to work for VECC, the valley’s 911 dispatch center. He always dreaded the July holidays because the high volume of calls regarding fireworks made it so difficult for people to get through who were having life-threatening issues.
Because of the drought, Frank’s wild firework creations, and hearing my brother-in-law’s 911 stories, I decided last year that we were going to end the circle fireworks party. There are many better ways to celebrate the 4th and 24th.
The ongoing drought (ranging from severe to exceptional), more people living on the borders of wildland, and increased recreation in the canyons within Salt Lake County, elevates our fire risk. Prevention and mitigation are much preferred to having to respond to and recover from a fire. The drought has left our reservoirs and lakes at record lows, contributing to dry conditions and leaving firefighters with less water to combat fires.
It is vitally important that we be fire smart this summer. Small things can make a big difference. It is estimated that exercising sensible fire practices can prevent roughly 70 percent of Utah wildfires. These are things like discarding cigarettes in the proper receptacles, not driving over or parking your car on dry vegetation, and securing trailer chains to make sure they don’t drag and spark a fire. Use a mindful approach, such as only starting campfires in cement or metal firepits, never leaving them unattended, and fully drowning them until cool to the touch. Utahfireinfo.gov has even more information to consider for your summer plans.
Many residents celebrate the 4th and 24th of July with fireworks. Fireworks are a lot of fun, but I’d encourage you to attend professional fireworks shows instead of lighting your own. The professional shows have measures in place to ensure safety. I’m a big fan of liberty and freedom, but I’m also a big fan of personal responsibility, so join me in foregoing fireworks this year. Let’s be smart and be part of the solution!
Aimee Winder Newton
Aimee Winder Newton has served since 2014 and represents Taylorsville, Murray, West Jordan, and West Valley City on the Salt Lake County Council. She was a former 2020 Republican candidate for Utah Governor and was the first woman elected as chair of the Council. Aimee works tirelessly to defend the quality of life in Salt Lake County while protecting tax dollars... [read more]
|Aimee Winder Newton||
aimee winder newton: County Council district 3