Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 17, 2018

Fireworks ordinance on hold

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Feb 13, 2018
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Fairfield City Councilors Martha Rasmussen and Tom Thompson speak after Monday’s meeting at city hall. The council voted to table an ordinance that would have limited the discharge of fireworks to Independence Day and New Year’s Eve.

The Fairfield City Council reversed course Monday and tabled a fireworks ordinance it appeared poised to adopt.

The proposed ordinance would reduce the number of days residents could discharge fireworks from 13 days in the year to just two – Independence Day and New Year’s Eve.

Though the council had approved the first two readings of the ordinance unanimously and with little debate at earlier meetings, the seven-member board voted unanimously Monday to table it after hearing from a resident who opposed it.

Brian Hawthorne told the council that reducing the number of days to shoot fireworks from more than a week to one day in July was “too extreme.” He shot fireworks for Fairfield Jaycees, then moved to California where he continued setting up fireworks shows.

Hawthorne worried that limiting discharge to one day would encourage people to shoot off all their fireworks at once instead of spacing them out over several days, and that this would be less safe.

At the same time, he also believed that limiting the number of discharge days would hurt fireworks sales, and this would negatively affect businesses that depend on them.

“I personally purchased a lot last year, and with it only being one day, I would not purchase as many,” he said in an interview. “[Fireworks] support local families and local businesses.”

Hawthorne said limiting fireworks to such an extent is wrong.

“The Fourth of July is about celebrating America’s independence,” he said. “If you’re restricting how many days we can shoot fireworks, it’s kind of going back on our principles.”

Hawthorne told the council he favored a three-day discharge window in July instead of just one day.

Mayor Ed Malloy said the “overwhelming feedback” from the rest of the town’s residents was to cut fireworks back as much as possible.

Councilor Katy Anderson motioned to table the ordinance, and Daryn Hamilton motioned to second it.

Councilor Paul Gandy said he had not considered the idea that a three-day window could be safer than one day.

“Brian brought up the kind of points a concerned citizen would bring up that makes you want to think about it more,” he said. “Since we have time, I think it’s worth talking about further. Maybe others will come forward with different points of view. I think it’s worthwhile to table it.”

When asked why three days would be safer than one, Gandy said Hawthorne was the expert, and that he was trusting his experience as a pyrotechnic operator.

“His point is that people will have more time to shoot off their fireworks rather than feeling rushed to do it in a few hours,” Gandy said. “Because of that, they’re more likely to take precautions in shooting off fireworks. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s a point of view I hadn’t heard before, and it gave me pause to think about it more.”

The councilors voting in favor of tabling the ordinance were Gandy, Anderson, Hamilton, Doug Flournoy, Michael Halley, Martha Rasmussen and Tom Thompson.






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