Brian Nelson rose from a foldout chair behind the checkout desk of his firework tent and walked through the aisles, which were littered with a cornucopia of pyrotechnics that in a week's time would be certain to dazzle hundreds of families.
As owner of Clearfield's Fireworks Frenzy, Nelson has taken it upon himself to make sure those families enjoy the Fourth of July festivities without incident. With temperatures in the 100s and water restrictions in several Top of Utah communities boosting the fire danger, Nelson knows everything he can do to educate his customers about how to safely set off fireworks will help.
"It benefits the entire industry, as well as our friends and families," Nelson said. "We don't want anyone getting hurt or starting fires. Safety is huge for Fireworks Frenzy."
One of the main and obvious responses cities take to combat the fire danger is implementing restricted firework zones. Roy Fire Department Chief Jason Poulsen said cities for the most part try to limit the size of restricted areas, but dry conditions sometimes make restricting large zones the only practical solution.
"We've had that water shortage, and we've got water restrictions in multiple counties, and being extremely windy lately, it's dried things out," he said. "We're even drier this year than we've been in the past. It's really important for people to just be smart about it and to think about what they're doing."
Some of the largest zones restricted this year are all areas east of Harrison Boulevard in Ogden and dry areas near the mountains in much of Davis County. But Poulsen said restricted areas only limit the fire danger if residents respect the restriction and if the restrictions are enforced. In Roy, for example, extra patrol units will be used July 4 in the restricted areas.
Ben Walworth, who sells Phantom Fireworks at a tent in Roy, said while firework restrictions may not please everybody, their implementations are generally sensible. Additionally, he often sells fireworks to people who live in restricted areas, and they have a simple solution -- find a legal place to set off their fireworks.
"You have to be safe, obviously, with fire, anytime with a spark," said Walworth, who distributes firework-safety fliers to customers when they make a purchase. "That's the last thing Phantom Fireworks wants -- they preach to us safety and making sure everyone is aware of how to operate the fireworks."
Complicating firework safety are aerial fireworks, which became legal in Utah in 2011. Rather than just placing them in the road and lighting them, it's important, Poulsen said, to make sure aerial fireworks are well-braced on a flat surface and that there is nothing in the vicinity that could catch on fire.
"If they're on an uneven surface and they tip, now you're getting a firework that's supposed to go 100 feet in the air, you're getting it toward homes and people," Poulsen said. "If you're going to do the aerials, you need to be responsible."
Another concern with aerial fireworks is their capabilities can be unpredictable to users unfamiliar with them. That's one reason Nelson's Fireworks Frenzy has developed a unique way to educate their customers about the fireworks they sell. When customers are browsing at Fireworks Frenzy, they can scan a firework's QR code, sending them directly to a video of the firework going off. In a sense, it's a way to try before you buy.
But it's not just aerials that start fires and cause danger. Poulsen said people often don't treat regular fountain fireworks with the caution they deserve, resulting in careless accidents.
"Maybe (aerials) are just a little more dangerous, but not as much as people think," Poulsen said. "Last year, we had more issues with the 'safe and sane fireworks,' they call it."
Regardless of what kind of firework it is, Poulsen said, safety ultimately comes down to using common sense.
"If something were to happen, worst-case scenario, what would that be, and would you be OK with that?" he said. "That's pretty much the bottom line."