Fireworks legislation needed
A bill that would have given the governor, municipal and county officials the power to restrict the sale and use of fireworks during times of high fire danger was basically extinguished this week when the majority of the Senate Corporations Committee voted to table it.
Three Democrats and three Republicans decided that the fireworks bill was unnecessary, while Committee Chairwoman DeDe Feldman (D-Albuquerque), one of the bill’s sponsors, has maintained that local entities should be able to determine if it’s safe for vendors to sell, and residents to use, fireworks.
We agree. Who knows the landscape and dangers better than local fire chiefs and county fire officials? They are the experts who are on the front lines every day assessing fire dangers.
If we give them the power to determine if it’s a burn day or not, then why can’t we give them the authority to say whether or not fireworks can be used in times of high fire danger?
We understand that fireworks accounted for less than 1 percent of the one million acres of wild fires in New Mexico last year, but that 1 percent, in our eyes, is one too many.
We also understand that local officials do have the power to ban the use of certain fireworks, such as rockets and firecrackers. But this isn’t enough.
We live in a beautiful, but drought-ridden state with millions of acres of parched ground and bosque brush. Why are we allowing fireworks to be sold and used when our lands are at risk?
Opponents of the bill argue that the restrictions would have made an economic impact on those who sell fireworks. While we agree that it would hurt local vendors, we believe that the fire dangers are much more important.
In Valencia County, all four municipal fire chiefs, as well as county fire officials, have expressed their desire for the authority to ban fireworks when there is a high fire risk. We commend them for their stand and for what they do every year to keep our citizens and our properties safe.
We hope that this issue won’t end here. We urge our local representatives to lead the charge and try again at next year’s legislative session.