Fireworks restricted

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The Socorro City Council and Socorro County Commission have each passed emergency ordinances restricting fireworks this season.

The City Council’s first order of business during its regular meeting May 20 was a fireworks proclamation, which prohibits some types of aerial fireworks and limits the use of other fireworks to barren areas with an easily accessible source of water.

The city’s proclamation was effective June 6 and remains in effect for 30 days. The proclamation states the city is enacting the restrictions due to extreme drought conditions present in the area.

The proclamation prohibits the sale or use of missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners and stick-type rockets, as well as ground audible devices like chasers, within city limits.

Firecrackers are allowed; their use is just limited to paved or barren areas with easy access to water. The same goes for cone fountains, crackling devices, cylindrical fountains, flitter sparklers, ground spinners, and illuminating torches and wheels.

A section of the proclamation added after the council heard from a local fireworks vendor “discourages” the use and sale of jumping jacks.

Violating the proclamation is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a year’s incarceration or both.

During its regular meeting June 11, the County Commission also approved an ordinance, effective immediately and in effect for 30 days, limiting the use of fireworks in the county.

County fire marshal Fred Hollis said the ordinance is the same one approved by the commission for the past two years. It is not a total ban on fireworks; it just bans certain aerial devices and restricts other fireworks to areas clear of brush or other flammables.

Hollis noted the city of Socorro and the village of Magdalena recently passed similar ordinances. He said there are major fires burning in the state already, and the county doesn’t want to take any chances.

The state of New Mexico also imposed restrictions on fireworks, smoking, campfires and open fires, which went into effect May 8, according to a news release issued by the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department on May 3. The restrictions are imposed on all non-municipal, non-federal and non-tribal lands in New Mexico and will remain in effect until rescinded.

“High fire danger exists across much of New Mexico, and new fire starts are becoming difficult to control,” State Forester Tony Delfin stated in the release. “I’m urging all state residents affected to follow the restriction guidelines to protect lives and property in their communities.”

The release states fireworks, smoking, campfires and open fires are prohibited unless certain conditions are met. Fireworks use is prohibited on lands covered wholly or in part by timber, brush, grass, grain or other flammable vegetation. The State Forester allows exceptions to the ban on fireworks where they are a part of a public exhibit approved by the local fire department.

Smoking is prohibited except in enclosed buildings, within vehicles equipped with ashtrays, on paved or surfaced roads, within developed recreation sites, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

The release also states open burning — the burning of cropland, fields, rangeland, debris, slash piles, prescribed burning or weed burning — is prohibited. The State Forester grants an exception to open burning when all of the following conditions are met:

  • The cropland is irrigated. This exception does not apply to non-irrigated croplands, fields or rangelands.
  • Burning is done with adequate planning.
  • Adequate personnel are present to monitor and control the burn to assure that it will not become an uncontrolled fire.
  • The burn area is secured from becoming uncontrolled at the end of daily operations.
  • At the beginning of each day, before ignition, the person responsible for the burn notifies the local fire department responsible for fire protection and follows all local burning guidelines and 20.2.60.111 NMAC, Open Burning of Vegetative Material, related to state air quality.