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City, county officials discuss fire restrictions as fireworks window opens

By Rob Nielsen - | Jul 3, 2024

Standard-Examiner file photo

A fireworks stand in Roy is pictured in 2019.

OGDEN -- City officials are gaining a better understanding of why a set of fire restrictions were imposed on the city last week while the Ogden City Fire Department seeks ways to better clarify restrictions to the public in the future.

During Tuesday's work session before the scheduled Ogden City Council meeting, Fire Chief Mike Mathieu and Fire Marshal Kevin Brown briefed council members and other staff on the restrictions that were implemented June 24 and extend through Oct. 15, or when moisture levels improve.

Restrictions include "a ban on fireworks and open flames in certain geographical areas of the City," including:

  • All areas east of Harrison Boulevard from the south city boundary north to Second Street, west on Second Street to Monroe Boulevard then north to the Ogden city boundary.
  • All wooded areas along the Ogden and Weber River Parkway trails beginning at Harrison Boulevard and continuing along the pathways to the west city boundary and the south city boundary. This also includes all associated parks along the river corridor.
  • All of Fort Buenaventura, the city baseball park and dog park area located off A Avenue.
  • The old landfill property located at approximately 2550 A Ave. near Fort Buenaventura.
  • All open fields, vacant lots, wooded areas and brush-covered hillsides throughout the city.

Mathieu pointed out that in the last two weeks, the city's fire department has responded to 13 grass fires in town. A further 23 have occurred just outside of the city with Ogden City assisting in extinguishing two of them.

Brown said that in the absence of significant rainfall, the area is drying up -- even on the heels of an above-average winter and spring.

Image supplied, Ogden City

This map shows areas, in red, where open flame and firework restrictions are in place in Ogden as of Tuesday, July 2, 2024.

"Due to the spring we've had and all the moisture, you've probably noticed the grass in the foothills is exceptionally tall, and it's dry" he said. "If you water your yard all through April and it grows 2 feet high and then you quit, it's just going to turn brown and die. That's where we're at and that's why we decided to restrict."

He said there is talk of clarifying restrictions over the coming year in order to cut down on confusion during future implementations.

"If you read the ordinance now, fire restrictions say, 'no open flames whatsoever,'" he said. "A lot of people want to live to the letter of the law, so we'll get a lot of calls, 'Can I have a barbecue? Can I have a fire pit.' We have to answer those questions individually.

"One thing we want to work on for next year, we've talked about a 'stoplight' system -- green, yellow, red -- on what those restrictions mean. Green is where we'd operate 300 days out of the year. And when we have fire restrictions, we could be at a yellow or a red, and we would define that so people understand it better."

The restrictions come as the area starts to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. Tuesday marked the first day when fireworks could be shot off from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each night through Friday. On July 4, the hours are extended to midnight.

David Reed of the Weber Fire District told the Standard-Examiner that Monday's implementation of Stage 1 fire restrictions in several Northern Utah counties, including Weber County, means fireworks will not be allowed in many areas of the county.

"That's in all unincorporated land, all state land," he said. "Weber Fire, Ogden Fire, Northview Fire and South Ogden have implemented their historical fire restrictions, which includes everything east of Harrison (Boulevard), the river bottoms going out west because we have so many problems down there. ... Off of the historical restrictions, we have the Stage 1, which is implemented again by the state, and that is all unincorporated lands -- all of the upper valley except for Huntsville proper and all out west in the unincorporated areas."

Where fireworks are still allowed, Reed reminded residents to continue exercising caution in their use.

"When people are lighting fireworks, put them in a bucket of water at night, or at the very worst leave them in the front yard and clean them up in the morning," he said. "Whatever you do, don't put them in the garbage can and put the garbage can next to the house."

He said three area houses in the last five years have been lost to fire because owners did this.

Reed also noted residents should supervise children around fireworks, even if they're using "safe" fireworks such as sparklers.

For more information on the Stage 1 restrictions, visit https://tinyurl.com/4tvwph9r.

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