Proposed measure sparks discussion on Aurora’s fireworks ban


AURORA | Like pit bulls and strip clubs, fireworks have long been a big no-no in Aurora.

But just a few months after neighboring Centennial loosened that city’s fireworks ban, Aurora City Council is set to consider a similar move.

Councilwoman Francoise Bergan, who is pushing the measure, said the city doesn’t need a ban that covers even minor fireworks like sparklers and snakes.

“When we were kids you got to do all that stuff and it was very exciting, very fun,” she said. “We are getting to the point where we are taking away some fun.”

City Council’s Public Safety Committee is set to discuss scrapping Aurora’s complete ban on fireworks at their Oct. 20 meeting.

But before novice fireworks enthusiasts get their hopes too high, keep in mind the change wouldn’t allow for shooting bottle rockets at your neighbor’s house or Roman candles at your cousin. Fireworks that explode or shoot into the air are illegal under state law, and that isn’t changing anytime soon.

Whether Bergan’s idea will make it out of the committee is unclear. Councilwoman Barb Cleland, who chairs the committee, said she doesn’t support changing Aurora’s fireworks rules.

“We’ve got too many fires in the city of Aurora around Fourth of July,” she said. “I don’t want to take the chance.”

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

Bergan said she understands the safety concerns many have about fireworks, but thinks the current ban is too far-reaching. The city’s law is also confusing, she said.

“Most people do not even understand that sparklers are illegal,” Bergan said.

While Aurora has a total ban on fireworks, legal fireworks 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 just 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.

Bergan said she would like to see rules similar to what Centennial has.

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.

Whether Centennial’s decision to scrap its ban resulted in more fires isn’t clear, but Allison Wittern, a spokeswoman for the city, said that — anecdotally — there didn’t seem to be an increase.

“People were still doing the fireworks when they were not allowed,” she said.

The Cunningham Fire Protection District, which covers much of Centennial, responded to just one fire caused by fireworks this year. But it was in unincorporated Arapahoe County, said Cunningham Deputy Fire Marshal Tyler Everitt.