SYRACUSE — City officials want to take a closer look at potential changes to city code involving the fire chief and the ability to impose a ban on the use of fireworks.
Following a recent work session that touched on potential changes to Title Seven, outlining the ability of the fire chief to limit the use of fireworks during extreme dry conditions, officials want to take the discussion further.
Discussion of the topic follows a move earlier this year by the city council to give Chief Eric Froerer temporary authority to prohibit fireworks or any ignition source within city limits in what were then described as “extreme hazardous fire conditions.”
That authority expired at the end of July, once the legal period for use of fireworks passed.
Changes to Title Seven could give the fire chief that authority in accordance with city code.
City officials spent time stewing over the possible implications of fireworks bans in regions of the city and the implications of misdemeanor charges for people who are unaware of a ban.
Several council members worried that some person would be unaware of a ban and the implications of that ignorance.
“At some point you have to be accountable for what you do,” Froerer said of any potential action taken in violation of restrictions.
Mayor Jamie Nagle encouraged council members to take a hard look at the pros and cons of changes to Title Seven as the discussion moves forward.
“Let’s take time to listen to the arguments to both sides on this issue. Go down to the fire department and do a ride-along with the police and get a feel for what they do every day,” Nagle told council members.
She also worried about possible limitations on any fire chief to address safety concerns.
“If we don’t trust the chief to do his job, then we have bigger issues than the fireworks issue. If we don’t give him the tools to do the job, how can he do his job?” Nagle asked.
Giving the chief the power to impose guidelines, however, did meet some resistance at the recent meeting.
Resident Terry Palmer said council members were elected by the people and shouldn’t easily cede power to non-elected officials.
“I don’t want too much power in the hands of our chief,” Palmer said.
Froerer has gone on record for the need to use common sense in setting guidelines and imposing any restrictions. He has said he doesn’t want a ban on people having fun, nor does he want to legislate every kind of condition in the city.