City Government

Time To Ban All Private Fireworks

Thursday’s fireworks-caused fire which burned a house, an outbuilding and 2,500 acres of the Boise foothills brings up the annual issue of illegal fireworks.

Possession of guns is protected by the U.S. Constitution, but fireworks are not a “right” of citizens. We say there is nothing patriotic about burning houses and injuring people with fireworks.

July 4th is a distant memory when the Idaho Legislature convenes each January and they never address the issue of selling “arson kits” all over the state.
firewroks stand
We are talking about those fireworks which are legal to sell and own, but illegal to shoot. Idaho law and Boise City law are different and police admit it is nearly impossible to enforce either, despite citizen complaints.

The answer is simple: BAN the sale and use of those little arson kits. There are no age restrictions on the sale of fireworks, so youngsters flock to the temporary stands throughout the city at the end of June. We tell kids not to play with matches all year long, then peddle attractive little firepops for a week before The Fourth.

The kids are warned to have adults around when they play with the fire, but if there are adults around they won’t let them play…the answer is to go out in the tall grass where no one will see them and the results can be catastrophic.

Each year the Ada Commishes pass an ordinance prohibiting fireworks in the unincorporated portion of the county, the BLM warns of the dangers of fireworks, and each year there are thousands–yes thousands–of complaints. You can get “the big stuff” just over the county line, but have to sign a waiver promising not to set off the fireworks in Idaho.

For those who insist, here are often ignored SAFETY TIPS from Boise Fire Dept.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. sharon fisher
    Jun 30, 2016, 3:43 pm

    LOL. Good luck.

  2. Yossarian_22
    Jun 30, 2016, 4:46 pm

    Fireworks are like guns, you can ban them all you want, but they are here to stay. Controlling guns is about controlling people. Controlling fireworks is about…stopping fires. It’s amazing how much people want to be controlled by government and don’t care about controlling fires.

  3. Come up to Idaho City’s football field on the 4th and see what happens. Folks that are on welfare pay 100’s of $ to people to take a trip to Simco road (fat City fireworks) to buy the real thing.

    And then they set them off in the middle of the football field in the middle of the forest. What a great idea… and the Idaho City police join in!
    Good luck getting it done and I would be in total favor of doing it.

    How are you going to handle the Indian’s reservations? Back in my day that is where every one went to buy the illegal stuff

  4. Bieter Begone
    Jun 30, 2016, 5:40 pm

    If fireworks are outlawed, only outlaws will have fireworks.

    Oh wait. They are already outlawed in the foothills. All of them.

  5. Grumpy OleGuy
    Jun 30, 2016, 7:44 pm

    Today would be too late. An immediate ban on the sale, possession or discharging of all fireworks is needed,

  6. Jay Williams
    Jun 30, 2016, 8:23 pm

    2x LOL. Good luck is right. Fireworks lobbyists own the legislature.

  7. “You can have my Roman candle when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.”

    Mr. Guardian, you make a good point. We’d have less property damage if there weren’t privately-operated fireworks on July 4th (and New Years and various other occasions). But the commenters also make a good point… an outright ban would probably have negligible impact on long-held traditions. The 4th of July is a demonstration of civil disobedience by people who are otherwise 100% law-abiding (except behind the wheel of course… haha). Take a walk around Boise on Monday night… or a bike ride. I can guarantee you that no matter the neighborhood, the smoke will hang heavy in the air, and pops and whistles will sound from every direction, airborne rockets (100% illegal in Idaho), etc., will be on glorious display.

    What we really need is a ban on stupid people. (Whether lighting off fireworks or firing tracer rounds.) Send ’em all to California – where they won’t even be noticed! But how do you enforce that? They OWN the Legislature!!

  8. Maybe we ought to also consider a surtax on homes built in fire-prone areas to pay for the additional people and equipment that are necessary to protect them.

    EDITOR NOTE–Not a bad thought. Foothills homes consume more street services due to slick winter conditions and as they slip downhill they are costing tax dollars to save and they also infringe on wildlife habitat–think Harris Ranch. On the other hand they are upscale and pay higher taxes.

  9. True.. the are upscale, Dave, but so are fancy houses of the same value built on flat land and not near hundreds of acres of dry grass.

  10. The real problem is that Ada County officials (especially, in this case, the Sheriff) hate Boise City officials. The area around Table Rock is in the COUNTY, not the City; and perfectly predictable events such as this fire get no proaction or reaction from the County. There was another fire in the same spot a couple of years ago; and there are nightly parties up there, often with bonfires. Oh well, after the Jefferson Street/St Lukes decisions, why expect ANYTHING from any elected official?

  11. Foothills Rider
    Jul 1, 2016, 5:44 pm

    “Safe and sane” fireworks made me feel vulnerable and stressed as a kid and now. I couldn’t bear being handed lit sparklers that sent burning embers onto my arms and face. Neighborhood “shows” always ended with someone having at least a minor accident with dud works, or a roof that needed a hose. I have had the good fortune to attend a couple of very large, choreographed, professional 4th celebrations (larger than here). Even though nicely done, I felt ‘meh’ especially as the smoke filled sky settled onto tens or hundreds of thousands of onlookers on a breezeless night. What is the draw? Can someone share?
    I’ll be celebrating the 4th with a neighborhood barbecue, pool, and frosty adult beverage – sans any fireworks in our foothills location. There is no such thing as “safe” fireworks.

  12. Steve Rinehart
    Jul 1, 2016, 8:36 pm

    Private parties shooting off mortar-style fireworks, of the type that started this week’s fire, is not a “long-held” tradition. It is a fairly recent phenom made possible by knot-heads in the city, county and state government. True, people will ordinarily act about as stupidly as one can imagine. That is why we have speed limits, stop signs, and — one might hope — thoughtful regulation of hand held explosives.

  13. You need a license to cut hair in Idaho but if you want to do a fireworks show, a permit may be required, but no pyrotechnic license is required for the operator to set off those big aerial displays. Anyone can set off the big ones in Idaho. Perhaps the “illegal” fireworks should be sold to licensed pyrotehnicians only.

  14. Steve Rinehart, I’m a life-long Boise citizen (62 years). For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen privately-launched airborne pyrotechnics on Independence Day (and New Year’s Day). And more often than not over those years, there have been foothills fires, from small-scale to conflagrations.

    The advent of the seasonal fireworks stands was timed perfectly with my coming-of-age… sometime in the mid-to-late 60s. Of course, they just sold (and sell) the “safe and sane” fireworks, like the cones you set on the ground and they spray sparks over a 30-foot diameter circle. What could possibly go wrong? (By sheer luck, I was never responsible for a major grass fire, even in my foolish youth.)

  15. Arson kits, haha, funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    You can buy enough mortars to fill a sandbagged rental truck but don’t try to buy any ammonium nitrate. It will take a major state of federal building to get McVeighed before any legislature acts on fireworks.

    Don’t they spike ammonium nitrate with markers now? And the markers have a paper trail? Why not the same with flying fireworks. Couple that with the affidavit not to launch in Idaho and bam, you got your fire causing suspects.

    Bikeboy: I’m with Steve, I don’t recall the mortars being around much until the last 10 years or so.

    Bigger Picture: Blame free trade with China. Meanwhile their insane pollution is wafting clear across the Pacific now. You get what you pay for muricans. Happy 4th. BTW, if you float the river, make sure you leave your cheap Chinese vinyl one-use raft on the river bank. I’ll come pick it up for you.

  16. I identify as a fireworks fan so banning them would cause me mental anguish and I would be forced to sue someone and ask for special legislation on my behalf.

  17. Those churches and non-profits selling “safe and sane” fireworks should reflect on whether their products created the Tablerock/Harris Ranch fire.

    Those considering building in the foothills should also reflect on fire and landslide dangers.

    A new development in middle of the fire on Warm Springs touts “Lots available”. I wonder how the developers explain the scorched landscape to prospective buyers?

  18. Eagle Writer
    Jul 4, 2016, 5:21 pm

    Many good points have been made. I think there is a fair compromise. Sparklers, poppers and fire crackers could be generally purchased for the driveway celebrations, and mortars and aerial displays could require a license.

    We can’t regulate stupid but we could regulate the fireworks whose damage the novice cannot control.

  19. Ban Stupidity
    Jul 5, 2016, 11:03 am

    You better ban cigarettes and toilet paper too. Those are dangerous and start fires in the foothills as well. What about lightening strikes from good ole Mother Nature? We should be looking at alternative methods of protection including annual prescribed burns prior to Independence day.

  20. Fireworks don’t start fires! Stupid people with fireworks start fires. We should ban stupid people.

  21. Aggrieved Party
    Jul 10, 2016, 1:03 am

    Without “fireworks”, there would have been no “Star Spangled Banner”.
    The “rocket’s red glare….the bombs bursting in air”..
    Good luck unseating this national mindset!

  22. It’s all fun & guns until the PUBLIC fireworks go badly

    This year in a quick search:
    City employee hurt at PUBLIC display

    Barges blow up and dump dangerous fireworks into the bay

  23. Visible Hand
    Jul 18, 2016, 8:37 am

    Instead of an outright ban, why not a non-refundable security deposit? Start the deposit at $500 for every $50 of aerial pyrotechnics purchased. Over a couple of years it could be worked out how much the deposit would need to be in order to cover firefighting operations resulting from the use of those types of fireworks.

  24. No, it’s time to bring back the forest products and range grazing industries. No fuel, no fire. Expect resistance from the local billion dollar fire departments.

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