SYRACUSE -- The fire chief in this community will have limited powers to impose a ban on fireworks.
Following weeks of discussion, the city council voted unanimously at a recent meeting to amend portions of the city code involving fire and hazardous materials.
The code addresses the ability of the fire chief to impose a ban on fireworks during dry seasons and also outlines potential penalties for violations of those bans.
It is the first time those portions of the code have been updated in 40 years.
One resident addressed the issue during a public hearing. Resident TJ Jensen said city officials need to make sure they don't delegate too much authority to the fire chief and admitted the city has a history of people "going off the reservation" in dealing with authority.
"We need to give the fire chief the leeway, but we need a check-and-balance," Jensen said.
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.
City officials spent a lot of time stewing over the possible implications of firework bans in regions of the city and the implications of misdemeanor charges for people who may not be aware of a ban.
Mayor Jamie Nagle encouraged council members to take a hard look at the pros and cons of potential changes.
Froerer has gone on record about the need to use common sense in setting guidelines and potentially imposing restrictions.
The chief has suggested he doesn't want a ban on people having fun, nor does he want to legislate every kind of condition in the city.
The code revision also addresses open burning of leaves, brush and grass clippings.
Open burning is allowed in agricultural zones on properties containing 20 or more trees, and on lots larger than two acres, with permission.