It depends where you’re talking about

Utah’s statewide restrictions on fire prevention leaves residents only with the option to use sparklers and similarly small fireworks during specific times of year, in specific locations. Bottle rockets, roman candles, and other consumer fireworks are totally banned.

The state leaves it to cities and counties to decide where they want to be in the narrow space between an outright ban an all-but-outright ban. Counties can implement outright fire and firework bans, but state law leaves cities with less leeway.

The downside of the deferral to counties and cities is that it creates a patchwork of restrictions across the state and even within counties regarding what fire and fireworks are legal. It has also created confusion about just how far cities can go to ban fireworks.

The ongoing fire restriction debate

While some Utah cities like West Bountiful and Clinton have so far implemented no location-specific fire or firework restrictions this year, Salt Lake City announced last week an outright ban on all fireworks, including sparklers and black snakes.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced the ban amid a back-and-forth between state and local lawmakers on just how far cities and the state can go on firework restrictions.

Gov. Spencer Cox said that the state can’t ban fireworks, but that cities can. Many local officials say the law reads otherwise, resulting in rejected calls for a special session to clarify the fire restriction rules.

Moab does not have an outright ban on fireworks. Since 2019, the city has banned small fireworks everywhere it believes it can, but it allows them at the Center Street Ball Fields. It has been a bid to limit fire activities around Independence Day, Pioneer Day, and New Year to a public area equipped with sprinklers.

Which fireworks exactly are banned?

Anyone who wants to use large and medium-sized fireworks has to leave the state to do so, or get a state-issued permit. The state bans aerial shells, salutes, roman candles, flash shells, comets, mortars, firecrackers, bottle rockets, aerial rockets, fireworks containing 500 grams of pyrotechnic material, and similar explosives.

The only fireworks the state allows at all are personal fireworks — the kind that doesn’t fly, explode, or travel more than six feet off the ground. That means sparklers and black snakes are allowed, but only where cities and counties allow them.

Outside Moab’s city limits, Grand County totally prohibits all fires and fireworks — including sparklers. The only kind of open flame Grand County currently allows is the small flame that comes from propane camp stoves, as long as the flame is three feet clear of any other fire fuels.

Where exactly are personal fireworks allowed?

The only place where Moab explicitly allows personal fireworks are the Center Street Ball Fields. Grand County and Moab have banned personal fireworks nearly everywhere else.

Moab bans personal fireworks at city parks (except the Center Street Ball Fields), parkways, public trails and pedestrian paths. The city also bans fireworks anywhere over or within 200 feet of Pack Creek or Mill Creek, and anywhere within 20 feet of any residence, building, structure, or combustible material (like piles of yard material).

Only personal fireworks are allowed in the few remaining areas within city limits. Again, Grand County currently bans all fires and fireworks outside city limits.

When are personal fireworks allowed?

On top of all those rules, Utah only allows the use of personal fireworks during certain times of the year. The state allows personal fireworks only from July 2 to July 5 (the days around Independence Day) and July 22 to July 25 (the days around Pioneer Day).

The state also allows personal fireworks during a short window of time around New Year and Chinese New Year. They are allowed from 13 hours before each until one hour after.

The exceptions to the rules

Utah subjects fireworks displays put on annually by the City of Moab and other municipalities to a special permitting process. The city brings firefighters on sight for the show, and other measures are taken to mitigate the potential for the pyrotechnics starting a wildfire.

Utah allows the sale of personal fireworks only from June 24 through July 25, December 29 to December 31, and on the two days before Chinese New Year.