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County Commissioners approve changes to fire ordinance to clarify burn restrictions, fireworks use

El Paso County Commissioners unanimously passed revisions to the fire ordinance.
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Posted at 6:40 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 10:02:18-04

EL PASO COUNTY — El Paso County Commissioners unanimously passed revisions to the fire ordinance that regulates open burning and the use of fireworks.

County Commissioners tell News 5 that changes to state law led them to implement revisions to the ordinance. They wanted to bring the ordinance closer in line with the state statute that gives county commissioners the authority to enact a fireworks ban between May 31 and July 5. It goes into effect immediately.

"Anytime we can save the community from possible fire danger is a good thing," said Jody Ilett, Owner of Affordable Flags and Fireworks.

The store has been serving the Colorado Springs community for the last 30 years — all while dealing with restrictions.

"We've always been told during a Stage 1 Fire Ban that we can't sell fireworks," said Ilett.

All of that changes with the passing of the El Paso County Open Fire and Open Burning Restriction Ordinance.

"I really think it will benefit us. The clarification of the law is very beneficial, and the fact that we all know what to expect. We don't have to search around and find out what is going on," said Ilett. "This year, finding out last minute was interesting. Our supplier is in Denver so we made several trips up there to fill up our van and bring fireworks down. We sold everything that we got, and some of it was gone before even Fourth of July," said Ilett.

El Paso County Commissioner Stan Vanderwerf says the changes to the ordinance will provide more clarity on open burning and the use and sale of fireworks during times of high fire danger.

"A lot of those rules existed previously but we just cleaned them up to make them easier to use," said Vanderwerf.

The ordinance establishes an open burning permit system for the purpose of authorizing and regulating open burning as one of many methods of safely disposing of slash. It also requires County Commissioners to draft and pass a written resolution that would ban fireworks county-wide during Stage 1 or II Fire Restrictions between May 31 and July 5.

"There is some value in that in the sense that the Board of County Commissioners is a board that the community interacts with so that gives chances for the community to provide input as we consider doing that," said Vanderwerf.

To help keep the community safe from wildfires — even if it means a firework ban.

"The nice thing is that there are really nice displays that you can see," said Ilett.