Chandler Council adding days to fireworks calendar - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler Council adding days to fireworks calendar

November 6th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler Council adding days to fireworks calendar
Community
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By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

Chandler City Council is expanding the number of days residents can legally light fireworks and one member wants to expand it even more.

“There are so many other holidays that we have — Chinese New Year, we have graduations, Juneteenth, weddings, all those kinds of things,” Councilman Mark Stewart said. “And so I’d hope that staff could help me write up an amendment to this so that we can include those holidays.”

Other members, however, were not ready to do that at the Oct. 24 study session.

“As the mayor indicated before, that’s probably the largest issue we get every year is the impact to the animals, the impact to the PTSD world,” Councilman Matt Orlando said, noting the “American Legion right now is looking at a policy to help restrict the fireworks.”

Mayor Kevin Hartke said he also opposed expanding the days beyond the change that was before them.

Council was expanding the days to include Diwali, which is the India’s Festival of Lights and one of the most important Hindu holidays. It is usually celebrated over five days in late October or early November, based on the Hindu lunar calendar. State lawmakers approved fireworks for up to two days.

The Legislature also gave the cities something that some municipalities have been asking for: the ability to regulate when people could set off fireworks.

Cities and towns can now restrict fireworks between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. for most holidays. The hours are shortened for the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve to 1 a.m-8 a.m.

Council approved making those changes to city codes though Stewart offered an amendment to expand them immediately to other holidays.

“Last night I was out for Diwali in my neighborhood. The kids were shooting off fireworks in the street, the little fountains, and they’re just having a blast,” Stewart said. “It was just the best time to walk around the neighborhood. Everybody was outside.”

There are two types of fireworks, legal and illegal. The fireworks you can buy at street corners and in stores are legal, having all been checked out by the Fire Department. They do not shoot into the air.

The ones that do shoot into the air and explode are illegal in Arizona. They are usually bought in neighboring states and brought here.

Right now Arizona residents can only set off legal fireworks for 29 days during the year, including for Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day, Christmas and New Year’s.

Stewart asked they were forbidden on Chinese New Year and Juneteenth and suggested they be legal even to celebrate birthdays, weddings and graduations?

Councilmember OD Harris supported the idea but Hartke and Orlando said it needed more study.

“I think there’s probably more work to be done,” Hartke said. “I know I would want to have further regulation on some of those, rather than just someone shooting off fireworks and say, ‘Well, it’s my birthday.’”

He mentioned that some pets are terrified by the loud booms with their heightened hearing. Orlando pointed out that some veterans with PTSD also don’t like the loud sounds.

The suggested a subcommittee look at the issue and bring it back for the full Council to consider.

Stewart didn’t like that idea.

“I don’t think we need a subcommittee or study session for this,” he said. “It is just adding a few extra holidays in the name of equity to make sure that everything is fair.”

Council approved the changes to add Diwali and restrict hours. Hartke said he was hopeful that after some research, Council could consider expanding fireworks further in December.

He said he was happy they were limiting the hours fireworks could be set off.

“Earlier this spring, in particular, after the New Year’s, we heard loud and clear from residents that were concerned about the fireworks,” Hartke said.

“While an illegal firework is illegal, regardless of what it is shot, this will give some more parameters and hopefully some relief to veterans who might struggle with loud noises and our pets that also respond negatively to such things.”