CASPER, Wyo. — Fireworks will remain banned in Casper including during the upcoming Fourth of July celebrations.
The Casper City Council briefly contemplated changing the rules to allow things like sparklers.
They discussed the issue on Tuesday, June 11 after Councilman Ken Bates asked that the bans be revisited.
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“I went through and I was looking at other states and other towns in Wyoming, and this is just an idea,” Bates said. “My idea initially was just for ground fireworks.”
He said fireworks would only be allowed on cement pads or dirt plots under his proposed rules, pointing to Lander as an example of the rules he’d like to allow.
He said that poppers and sparklers are illegal in Casper, and said he thought that was unnecessary.
Bates said that he was aware of concerns that fireworks can trigger people with post-traumatic stress disorder, but had heard from people with PTSD who said they thought they could cope with such effects for the Fourth of July.
Allowing fireworks wouldn’t just be for the Fourth of July, but for things like sparklers at winter weddings, according to Bates’ proposal.
Under his proposal, the fire department could still initiate bans when conditions were particularly dry.
“I really hope Council will see this is a good thing and not a bad thing,” he said.
Councilman Mike Huber said he “couldn’t see any possible reason” for Bates proposal given fire dangers. He said that the fireworks ban has been “astronomically” effective in terms of preventing fires.
Councilman Bob Hopkins was also opposed to the idea, though he said he shot off fireworks as a kid, due to fire and injury risk from setting off fireworks.
Councilman Chris Walsh said he thought poppers and sparklers were not covered by the ban.
Casper Parks and Recreation Director Tim Cortez said that anything emitting sparks was covered by the ban.
Councilwoman Khrystyn Lutz said that Lander requires intense oversight in order to allow the Fourth of July fireworks and besides, was a less dry climate than in Casper.
“A little fire could get real big, real quick,” she added. “It’s a big concern to remember.
Bates said the he understood the concerns of his fellow council members, though he still thought they should give his idea a chance.
“Why not take a step out once and see what would happen?” he said.
Casper Mayor Charlie Powell said the ban should not be lifted because people would interpret the lift as a free-for-all, thinking all fireworks were allowed.
Bates asked how stores were still allowed to carry fireworks if this was illegal.
Walsh said that during his time with the police department, attempts to cite or confiscate fireworks from stores had been challenged in court.
The Casper Fire-EMS Department recommended keeping the bans in place “due to our arid high plains desert with elevated temperatures, dry fuel, low humidity and windy conditions which cause a significant fire safety concern.”
Fire Chief Tom Solberg, Deputy Chief Mike Harshman and Community Risk Reduction Officer Ryan Neff also said in their memo that 20 fires have been reported since 2014 with “fireworks” or other explosives listed as the heat source.
Fireworks are banned all across Natrona County, including in Mills, Evansville, Bar Nunn, Midwest and Edgerton since 1980.
The sale and use of fireworks in Natrona County is a misdemeanor with fines up to $750 and/or imprisonment of up to 60 days.
Professional fireworks shows can be allowed so long as the proper permitting is issued, such as for the Fourth of July show at the Casper Events Center, the memo adds.
The increased risk of wildland fire was also cited as a reason to continue the ban.