Rifle eyes permanent ban on fireworks, open burning | AspenTimes.com

Rifle eyes permanent ban on fireworks, open burning

Heidi Rice
Rifle correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. ” Fireworks could be a thing of the past in Rifle under a new city ordinance proposing a permanent ban on open burning and fireworks.

In addition, the Rifle Fire Protection District is not planning to put on a Fourth of July fireworks display this year, according to Fire Chief Mike Morgan.

In the past, the City Council has enacted a fire ban annually as dry conditions warrant it. Now, the city is contemplating a permanent ban, with the ability to lift it or enact further restrictions, depending on weather conditions.

“This burn ban will be in effect from Memorial Day to Labor Day,” Morgan said. “The intent of the whole thing is, instead of actions being needed by the City Council, it bans fireworks and open burning during the summer, which can be lifted.”

The amended open-burning and fireworks ordinance came about after a meeting a year ago between the City Council and the fire district board.

“Instead of waiting until the last minute (to pass a fire ban resolution), we would have it in place and could waive it if the situation warranted,” explained Police Chief Daryl Meisner.

The new ordinance defines open burning as “the burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber.”

Certain recreational burning activities, such as outdoor barbecues, do not fall under the burn ban, though campfires at Rifle Mountain Park may be prohibited. Under a complete fire ban, however, backyard barbecues could be banned.

“Recreational burning is a whole other animal,” Morgan said. “This new ordinance reflects what we are currently already doing. And it gives the city manager the authority to be more restrictive.”

Under the new ordinance, fireworks are prohibited between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In previous years, it was legal to light personal fireworks, as long as they did not leave the ground or explode. Not anymore.

And, the fire district is not planning a fireworks display on the Fourth of July. The pyrotechnics typically cost between $10,000 and $12,000; Morgan said the district doesn’t have the time or money to put on the show.

“Last year we didn’t do it and we can’t continue to be the key agency for putting on the fireworks, Morgan said. “There are pyrotechnicians that can do it and we’re not opposed to helping. But with the city’s growth, we don’t have time to do the fundraising.”

The police department is in charge of enforcing the fire ban. The new ordinance changes what used to be a class B municipal offense to a more serious class A offense.

The ordinance can be enforced by the code enforcement officer, the police department or designated Rifle Fire Protection District officers.

Convictions of a class A violation may bring a $1,000 fine and one year in prison, while a class B conviction carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.

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