Despite being banned from use, fireworks can still be legally sold in Garfield County

Alex Zorn

While the Garfield County commissioners decided earlier this week to ban the use of fireworks in unincorporated parts of the county, the decision to ban the sale of fireworks did not come up this time around.

The last time it did, in 2013, the commissioners banned the use of fireworks and initially banned sales also. However, the commissioners ultimately decided not to ban sales in the lead-up to the July 4th holiday that year.

“I didn’t support ban of sales last time, and I don’t think it’s our job to interfere with somebody’s legal commerce,” said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, who weighed in on the idea of banning fireworks sales that has been mentioned in some circles as the fire danger increases.

In 2013, the county commissioners adopted an ordinance in early May banning both the use and sale of fireworks, according to County Attorney Tari Williams. However, after a request from a seasonal vendor and a lengthy discussion from the commissioners, the sales ban was repealed a month later in a 2-1 vote. That year, fireworks were still sold in the county from June 29 to July 4.

This year, the commissioners decided not to discuss banning sales, though other area jurisdictions, including Mesa County and some Front Range counties, have done so.

Vallario said he prefers to manage fireworks from the user end and does not believe it is his job to interfere with somebody’s legitimate business.

He compared it to trying to ban a dealership from selling cars or a liquor store from selling booze just because there are people out there that might abuse it.

He said he does not believe in banning the sale of legal products and said as much to the commissioners when the issue was discussed.

In any case, if the commissioners wanted to ban the sale of fireworks, it would be too late to do so for this year’s Fourth of July, as notice of a public hearing must be published twice, once at least 15 days and the second at least eight days in advance, according to state statute. The ordinance also then needs to be published in full and would become effective 30 days after adoption.

In other words, the commissioners would have needed to pass the ordinance 60 days in advance for the ban to be in effective for this Fourth of July.

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