Colorado Springs Fire Dept. stepping up firework safety patrols

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- More than a quarter of fires started by fireworks between 2009 to 2013 were reported on Independence Day.

Colorado Springs Fire Department will be conducting firework patrols July 3 to 5 to make sure that everyone is following the rules.

Lori Powers is new to the area and was buying fireworks Thursday afternoon. When asked if she knew that fireworks are illegal in Colorado Springs, she had the same answer as many people.

"I didn't know that to be honest with you, but we've never lived in the city limits so we've never had an issue," Powers said.

If you are in Colorado Springs city limits, anything that has a fuse or takes a flame to light is illegal, but in the county there are different rules.

"The fourth of July is very busy time, we still have residents that have not received the message," said Fire Capt. Steve Wilch.

The law might be a little confusing, because, sometimes the boundaries separate neighborhood which mean one house may be able to shoot off the fireworks, but the house across the street can.

Wilch explains the easiest way to find out.

"If you look at your tax bill or you look at your utilities bill, you can see who you pay your taxes to  and you'll know if you are in the county or the city jurisdiction," said Wilch.

Just because fireworks are illegal doesn't mean you can't have a spectacular Independence day with the family. Wilch encourages locals to watch a show by the professionals.

In a single year, fireworks caused about 15,000 fires in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association.

"We have an area that is prone to wildfires and we don't want to see a wildfire as a result of fireworks," said Wilch.

Colorado Springs City Rules

Fireworks are illegal within the City, with the exception of paper caps for toy guns, and other paper cap fireworks containing no more than 1/2500 grain of explosive content per cap.

Conviction for these charges may carry a fine of up to $2,500 and/or 189 days in jail. If property damage or injury occurs because of such a violation, the perpetrator may be charged with the Colorado State statute of Arson.

El Paso County Rules

If a firework is not classified as "permissible" then it is illegal to use, possess or sell.  A good rule of thumb to remember is if a firework flies through the air, explodes or shoots flaming balls, it is illegal.

Illegal fireworks include:

  • Bottle rockets
  • Firecrackers of any type
  • Mortars
  • Roman candles

Permissible fireworks include:

  • Fountains
  • Ground spinners
  • Smoke Bombs
  • Sparklers

Fireworks should not be confused with "trick noise makers."  Trick noise makers are not classified as fireworks, and are not prohibited by the fireworks statutes.  These items will bear a label that states they are trick noise makers.  They function by throwing them on the ground or by pulling a string. Trick noise makers include:

  • Snaps (small paper wads that are thrown on the ground)
  • Champagne poppers (pull string and they launch colored paper)
  • Pull string poppers (small 2" paper tube with a string from each end)

Both unlawful fireworks, as well as permissible fireworks are prohibited in County Parks and the incorporated cities to include Colorado Springs, Monument, Fountain, Manitou Springs, and all of Teller County.

Pueblo County and City Rules

The City's municipal code restricts the use of legal fireworks to one day only, July 4 from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Penalties for lighting illegal fireworks are a $1,000 fine for use in the city and a mandatory court appearance for those using fireworks outside the city limits.

Use of all fireworks are prohibited in state parks and wildlife areas and on U.S. Forest Service land.

Citizens are urged to follow these rules when using legal fireworks:

  • Don't let children handle, play with or light any fireworks.
  • Don't consume alcohol when using fireworks.
  • Don't attempt to re-light, alter or fix any "dud" firework item.
  • Don't hold a lighted firework in your hand.
  • Don't light fireworks during strong wind conditions and never indoors.
  • Don't aim, point or throw fireworks at another person or at any property.
  • Light fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface, not on grass or gravel.
  • Light fireworks in a clear, open area, making sure the area overhead is free from obstructions.
  • Make sure trees, bushes and grass are well watered.
  • Light only one firework at a time using an extended butane lighter or a punk; then move away quickly.
  • Do have a fire extinguisher, water supply, hose or bucket of water nearby for emergencies. Keep a bucket of water nearby for matches or sparklers.
  • Gather all spent fireworks and dispose of properly.

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