Garfield County commissioners move to ban fireworks use ahead of fire season

Separate resolution needed to ban use during June through July 4 holiday

Fire crews work to battle a fireworks-caused brush fire that broke out on the hillside just south of the Glenwood Springs Airport in August 2019.

Garfield County is looking to once again ban the personal use of fireworks in unincorporated areas ahead of what’s anticipated to be another dangerous wildfire season.

County commissioners on Monday approved on second reading an ordinance prohibiting the personal use of fireworks — including those that can be legally purchased in Colorado — for the coming year.

A similar ordinance adopted last year at this time remains in effect. The new one would become effective immediately upon the expiration of that one.

It bans the personal use of fireworks outside town limits for the entire year, subject to revisions if the fire danger subsides, with the exception being the period from May 31-July 5.

If weather conditions continue as predicted, it’s very likely the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Manager Chris Bornholdt will request a separate resolution banning fireworks during the Independence Day lead-up, as well.

Similar ordinances could be adopted by the various municipalities, including the city of Glenwood Springs, banning personal fireworks use within city limits for portions of the year, as well.

“As expressed in your ordinance, we are already experiencing hot, dry conditions and it’s probably going to get a lot worse,” Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Gary Tillotson said, speaking before the county commissioners Monday.

“Not having fireworks in the mix will help. We have to take this one step at a time,” he said.

Last year was one of the worst fire seasons on record in Colorado and locally, with major wildfires burning for weeks on end across the state, including the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon and the Pine Gulch Fire in far western Garfield County.

Those fires were not caused by fireworks, but the area has seen its share of brush fires that were traced to the use of fireworks. Among them was an August 2019 fire near the Glenwood Springs Airport that nearly burned into the Four Mile Ranch subdivision before it was contained due to an intense air and ground firefighting attack. A fireworks ban was in place at that time.

The sale, purchase, possession and personal use of aerial fireworks is banned throughout Colorado. However, certain types of ground-based fireworks, such as fountains and flares, as well as hand-held sparklers, are legally sold and purchased.

The county ordinance was passed on second reading 3-0 by the commissioners Monday, and will come back for a third reading later this month.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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