By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – At last week’s Dec. 6 Hot Springs City Council meeting, the first reading of a new fireworks ordinance was passed unanimously which will drastically change the kinds of fireworks and the timeframe to ignite them, in comparison to what took place this past Fourth of July holiday.
According to the new ordinance, which will receive its second reading at the Dec. 20 meeting, “approved fireworks for individual use shall be limited to stationary ‘cones and fountains’ and novelty devices only. No consumer fireworks legally or illegally sold in the State of South Dakota that are thrown, propelled or otherwise travel may be discharged. Additionally, no consumer fireworks that explode or provide a ‘report’ such as but not limited to firecrackers, aerial mortars, bottle rockets, skyrockets, etc. may be discharged.”
Additionally, fireworks will not be permitted when the Black Hills Area Fire Danger for Custer and Fall River Counties is High, Very High or Extreme, or if a Red Flag Warning has been issued by the National Weather Service.
Another change from what was in place this past summer is the timeframe in which the aforementioned “cones and fountains and novelty devices” and are allowed, which will only be from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the Fourth of July.
Last year, the City of Hot Springs loosened up its fireworks regulations and justified it by aligning themselves with statewide regulations, which legalizes all fireworks sold in the State of South Dakota to be discharged from June 27 to the first Sunday after July 4. This year, that made the discharge of fireworks legal for a total of 15 days, since the Sunday following July 4 in 2021 was not until July 11.
The loosened restrictions in 2021 were met by city residents with both praise and consternation, based on feedback received by the City Council at meetings following the Independence Day holiday. Through that feedback however, the council was reminded that since the city limits are located within the Black Hills Fire Protection District, they could be liable for any fires caused by the fireworks which were legalized through city ordinance.
With that in mind, the City Council crafted a brand new ordinance and passed the first reading on Oct. 18, 2021, which limited the in-town fireworks to only sparklers, smoke bombs and snakes.
However, following the discovery of new information that allows municipalities to set their own fireworks rules, despite their location within the boundaries of the Black Hills Fire Protection District, the City Council went back to the drawing board on Nov. 1 and invited the public to attend a Public Safety meeting on Nov. 15 to share their thoughts on the topic.
The ordinance approved on first reading Dec. 6 was in-part the result of that input and the discussion which took place at that Public Safety meeting in November.