Fireworks banned in Fountain as of today
Last updated 6/10/2021 at 10:36am
The city of Fountain will not allow the sale, use or possession of fireworks in city limits, effective Thursday, June 10. There is no end date for the ban at this time. This brings the city into conformity with the rest of El Paso County.
"The city will continue to assess the situation related to the use of fireworks and update this decision accordingly," a city press release stated.
Fire Chief James Maxon said this year's potential for fire is a major cause for concern.
Typically, Fountain allows fireworks May 31-July 6 but reserves the right to ban them if the fire chief determines conditions to be unsafe.
"It is unfortunate that we have to ban fireworks; however, the conditions are just too unsafe to allow them right now," Maxon said. "Implementing a fireworks ban is done in the best interest of all our residents, and I'm confident our community will continue to support their first responders' efforts to keep everyone safe."
Forecasts from the National Weather Service are indicating very dry weather during the month of June, compounding already dangerous local fire conditions, officials said. The use of fireworks under these circumstances increases the chances of fire and damage to property, puts a strain on local fire response and medical resources, and elevates the risk of personal injuries.
In addition, Police Chief Chris Heberer vowed to have extra patrols throughout the city this 4th of July to crack down on any illegal fireworks activity.
Some residents in attendance at Tuesday's City Council meeting were there to plead for better enforcement of the usual ordinance, which permits fireworks May 31-June 6. They said last year's fireworks set off by residents were oftentimes the illegal variety, and they feared for the safety of their properties.
"It was just horrifying," Jutta Smith said. "Our streets were covered in smoke for hours. It looked like a war zone."
Penny Cimino said last year the fields around her house were so dry the ground crackled under her feet. She also claimed residents setting off fireworks said this year's would be even bigger.
Heberer said he intends to pair fire and police officers for the July 4 time period, actively looking for illegal activity.
"Our plan is to step up enforcement by additional patrols," he said. "We will cite and confiscate fireworks."
Mayor Gabe Ortega noted that while Fountain has allowed fireworks in recent years, many of the large ones being set off are actually illegal. Some people travel to Wyoming to purchase those and use them here. This year most every type will be illegal.
"As much as everybody loves fireworks, we've just gotta be safe," Ortega said.
City ordinance 1663, passed in 2015 by City Council, allows the city to ban fireworks when dry weather or fire conditions preclude the safe discharge of permissible fireworks.
Fireworks vendors that normally pop up in area shopping center parking lots did not arrive as usual this year. Maxon said he warned them last year that they city might not permit them if conditions were too dry.