No fire ban, but still no fireworks show for Rifle | AspenTimes.com

No fire ban, but still no fireworks show for Rifle

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. – With the exceptional amount of moisture the area received in June, the city will likely lift the fire ban and allow the use of legal fireworks for the Fourth of July weekend. The key word here, folks, is “legal.”

Illegal fireworks are anything that “leaves the ground and goes bang or blows up,” according to Fire Chief Mike Morgan and Police Chief Daryl Meisner.

The decision to lift the fireworks ban, which was put into permanent effect in April this year by the Rifle City Council, was a joint decision made by City Manager John Hier, Meisner and Morgan.

The Rifle City Council decided it was easier to have a fire ban in place and lift it if conditions warranted, rather than implementing a fire ban every year.

“We’ve all agreed that the risk and danger of fire this year is low because of all the rain we had,” Hier said. “So we will lift the ban from July 2 to July 5 for legal fireworks within city limits.”

The fireworks ban, when in effect, does not pertain to recreational burning such as outdoor backyard barbecues.

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However, lifting the fire ban does not mean that there will now be a fireworks dis­play by the Rifle Fire Department.

“A fireworks display is a whole different animal,” Morgan said. “People need to understand why the fire department is not doing it.”

For years, members of the Rifle Fire Protection District would go door to door throughout the community to help raise money to fund the fireworks display, which typically costs from $12,000 to $15,000, according to Morgan.

“Our primary method of getting donations was to go door to door through the community,” Morgan said. “But this community has grown a lot. In 1986, we could do it in five evenings. Now, we just don’t have the manpower to do it. Finally last year we just said we can’t do it anymore.”

And while Morgan said it is a need in the community, neither the Rifle Fire Protec­tion District board, not the city, wants to use taxpayers’ dollars to put on the display. “We’ve approached various groups to see if they would take on the fundraising,” Morgan said. “And [the fire department] would be happy to assist with the display.”

The Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce was one organization that was approached about funding the fireworks.

“We don’t have that kind of money,” said Annick Pruett, president and CEO of the chamber. “If the community wants fire works, the community has to get behind it.” The Rifle Police Department will have an increased patrol over the weekend, with an eye out for illegal fireworks or those drink ing and driving.

“We always do an increased patrol as far as the drinking and driving aspect,” Meis­ner said. “We encourage you to enjoy yourself, please drink responsibly. And practice caution even with legal fireworks.”

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