No real sparks over move to allow non-flying fireworks in Aurora


AURORA | Future Fourth of July celebrations in Aurora probably won’t be too much louder, but they could be a bit brighter.

A City Council committee last week gave initial support to a plan to lift Aurora’s across-the-board ban on fireworks.

If the measure gets the backing of the full city council, sparklers, fountains and other fireworks that don’t explode or shoot off the ground could be legal in Aurora.

Council’s Public Safety Committee chairwoman, City Councilwoman Barb Cleland, said she opposes lifting the ban, but the other two council members on the committee, Bob Roth and Francoise Bergan, backed sending it to the full council.

But the measure likely won’t go to the full council until early next year because city staff is crafting rules that would allow possession of fireworks as well as fireworks sales, Cleland said.

Michael Bryant, a spokesman for the city, said Aurora Fire Rescue and the City Attorney’s Office are crafting those proposals and they should go before the committee in November.

Cleland said she expects the plans to pass out of the committee and go to the full council.

While the plan met with initial support, Cleland said she doesn’t like the idea. Even smaller fireworks like sparklers can be dangerous for children, she said.

But, Cleland said, there is some validity to the argument that if some fireworks were legal residents would be more likely to light them in the street or on the driveway where the fire danger is lessened. As is, people often light them in the backyard — where fire danger is higher — because they don’t want to get a ticket, she said.

Bergan said she backs lifting the ban on possession and sales.

“If you are gonna lift the ban on those items, why not let people buy it in our own city?” she said.

Earlier this year, Centennial loosened that city’s fireworks ban. Denver still has a total ban on fireworks.

Aurora fire responded to 20 fires over the July 4 weekend that were caused by fireworks, according to department statistics.

While Aurora has a total ban on fireworks, legal stands just outside city limits sell fireworks for several weeks leading up to Independence Day every year.

Purchasing those fireworks — which include only sparklers, fountains, smoke bombs and other items that don’t explode or come off the ground — is perfectly legal. But driving back across the Aurora line with them isn’t because it’s illegal to light fireworks in Aurora. It’s illegal to possess them, too.

Fireworks are allowed in Centennial and unincorporated areas of the county as long as the sheriff doesn’t have a temporary ban on open burning in place. This year, that meant some fireworks were legal in those spots until just after Fourth of July, when Sheriff Dave Walcher — citing dry conditions and high fire danger — instituted a ban that lasted several weeks.

According to the city of Centennial, the new rules there allow residents to light sparklers, fountains and other fireworks that don’t violate state law.