Fireworks restrictions in county complicate an otherwise bright business

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
A fireworks stand is pictured, Wednesday, June 20, 2018 in the K-MART parking lot in Farmington.
A sign for fireworks is pictured, Wednesday, June 20, 2018 in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Firework sales started Wednesday, but dealers are limited in what they can sell.

Even possessing certain fireworks could result in a $500 fine in Farmington city limits.

Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield, Kirtland and San Juan County have banned every firework they can legally ban.

The firework bans were sparked by drought conditions throughout the Four Corners region and concerns that the fireworks could cause fires that would quickly get out of control.

A cluster of fireworks bursts in the sky July 3, 2015, during the annual Fourth of July Farmington fireworks show.

During a Mayor’s Table video from the city of Farmington, Fire Chief David Burke said if the firework has a caution label it is legal in city limits. However, if the label says warning, it is illegal.

Fireworks are a traditional part of Fourth of July celebrations and local governments are urging people to attend public displays on the third, fourth and fifth of the month in Farmington and Bloomfield.

Local fireworks dealers either did not return requests for comment, would not comment on the record or could not be reached.

Officials recognize people may still want to light off fireworks.

People who want to safely light off fireworks can go to McGee Park. Fireworks should be shot off on paved surfaces or bare dirt that has been cleared of all vegetation. Water should be present to suppress fires any time people are lighting off fireworks.

Local fire officials are asking residents who want to use fireworks for the Fourth of July to launch them in the parking lot at McGee Park.

Legal fireworks include ground and hand held sparkling and smoke devices, cone fountains, crackling devices, cylindrical fountains, flitter sparklers, ground spinners, illuminating torches, toy smoke devices and wheels that are either stationary or have a small radius.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the firework industry has seen "unprecedented growth" since 1998.

The American Pyrotechnics Association uses data from annual reports of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to evaluate annual sales of consumer and display fireworks.

Spectators watch the city's official fireworks show from the parking lot at San Juan College in Farmington in this file photo.

Consumer fireworks are ones that can be bought at firework stands while display fireworks are what the city will use for its public display.

In 1998, people nationwide spent $284 million on consumer fireworks. Last year, consumer firework sales brought in $885 million, according to the data on the American Pyrotechnics Association's website.

Display fireworks have also seen increased revenue. In 1998, $141 million of display fireworks were sold nationwide. Last year, $353 million of display fireworks were sold.

The American Pyrotechnics Association also tracks the amount of pounds of fireworks sold annually.

In 2017, 229 million pounds of consumer fireworks were sold, compared to 102 million pounds in 2000.

While the number of pounds of consumer fireworks increased since 2000, that weight has decreased for display fireworks, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

Last year, 25.4 million pounds of display fireworks were sold. In 2000, 50.6 million pounds of display fireworks were sold.

Huish Sporting Goods, located outside of Farmington on U.S. Highway 64, said in a statement to The Daily Times that the store does not yet know how the restrictions will impact the store's sales of fireworks.

"We stand behind the county government," the sporting goods store said.