Banning fireworks has limited effect

As news about drought and fire danger worsens in the hottest month of the year in New Mexico, more restrictions and closures on public lands are in effect each day—but in the city of Moriarty, the mayor feels his hands are tied when it comes to fireworks.

That’s because of changes to the regulations regarding fireworks, said Moriarty Mayor Ted Hart.

Moriarty is home to several permanent and temporary stands which sell fireworks, mostly to people passing through the city, Hart said. They are legal businesses, permitted by state law and city ordinances.

“I’ve visited with fireworks stands here, and most of the fireworks go out of state,” Hart said. “We’re limiting people coming here and buying product from our family-ran businesses. The state gives these guys permits, and they pay big money for those permits.”

The regulation says the city can ban the sale or use of certain types of fireworks, including “stick-type rockets” and firecrackers “with more than 130 milligrams of explosive.”

Immediately following descriptions of “not permissible fireworks” in the regulation, this line appears: “A municipality or county shall not by ordinance regulate and prohibit the sale or use of any permissible firework except aerial devices and ground audible devices.”

What that means for the city, Hart said, is that it is very limited in what it can do to reduce fire danger with respect to fireworks.

“Because of the drought situation and how fast grass fires are starting, if I had the power, I’d ban the use of all fireworks within the city limits,” Hart said, adding that he expects to come under fire for this position.

The city will have fire crews patrolling around the July 4 holiday “so we can respond quickly to any incident, but that’s the best I can do under these laws,” Hart said.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service this week issued a press release talking about the danger of flash flooding on burn scars in the state including the 17,000 acres of the Dog Head Fire, and closures and restrictions on public lands continue to stack up.

Moriarty, meanwhile, passed resolutions declaring drought and restricting the use of certain types of fireworks within the city limits.

For an up-to-date listing of closures, restrictions and active fires, visit edgewood.news/fire-beat.