West Jordan City Council votes to ban aerial fireworks

WEST JORDAN, Utah -- A special West Jordan City Council meeting was held Friday, and the council voted 4-2 to ban aerial fireworks in the city through July 27.

The decision comes after several other cities in northern Utah have passed or are considering passing additional fireworks restrictions after several fires broke out on and around the Fourth of July.

Council members are also discussing the possibility of designating a specific area exempt from the ban, so residents can discharge aerial fireworks in that zone.

The ban would cover Pioneer Day, July 24, and the subsequent three days during which Utahns are allowed to set off aerials under state law.

The two council members who voted against the ban tell Fox 13 News they agree that something ought to be done about aerial fireworks and fire danger, but they said they voted no because they were concerned they weren't giving police the time and resources needed to properly enforce such a ban.

"The bottom line is we want citizens to be safe," said Fire Chief Marc McElreath.

Many of the citizens who spoke at Friday's meeting supported the ban.

"I've personally witnessed aerial fireworks gone bad, and fires started because of aerials," one resident said.

Another resident told the council: "I pray you ban fireworks. Thank you."

Deputy Chief Reed Scharman of the West Jordan Fire Department said they had a busy holiday weekend this Independence Day, and they hope to avoid a repeat of that on Pioneer Day.

“The Fourth of July was extremely busy, a lot of calls for service all over the city,” he said.

According to West Jordan City, dispatch received 288 calls per hour on the Fourth of July from 9:30 p.m. to midnight. West Jordan alone responded to 54 field fires, many of which they believe were sparked by aerial fireworks.

One fire caused $30,000 in damage, and the city says they don't have the resources to keep up.

Scharman said they worry Pioneer Day could be a repeat of the Fourth of July when it comes to fire calls.

“Our concern is that with the holiday coming, we could get into a situation: the grass is all still big and dry and the weather conditions are still what they were [during the Fourth of July], and if we had a repeat there is a chance that things won’t work out well," Scharman said.

Fox 13's Kiersten Nunez was at Friday's special city council meeting, watch News at Nine for her live report.