No fire ban in effect this year, but fireworks stands are fewer

Kalina Young straightens a display of fireworks as she mans the Phantom Fireworks tent at Mesa Mall.

During the fall, winter and spring, Kalina Young, 26, teaches with School District 51.

During the summer, she sells explosives.

Young peddles her wares under a giant blue-and-white tent in the Mesa Mall parking lot and predicts this year’s sales to be a bang.

“My husband and I started with Phantom (Fireworks) three years ago,” she said.

She has seen the business through some hard years. The past three years, the Grand Junction Fire Department instituted a ban on fireworks. The most-recent ban, though, applied outside the city limits in unincorporated parts of the county.

“The first year was a fireworks ban, and we did OK,” Young said, who is married to Kevin Young, a 28-year-old minister.

But last year, the partial ban made for a blowout.

“It was an amazing year. I think every stand sold out,” said Young from the shade of the fireworks tent, which opened for business Friday. “People felt better when they could light it off legally.”

In general, legal fireworks in Colorado are any that do not leave the ground or go “bang.”

A ban is not anticipated this year, said Mike Page, Grand Junction Fire Department spokesman. But it might be a little harder to buy fireworks in the Grand Valley, simply because there are fewer stands. Last year, 21 permits were issued. This year, the number is 19.

“I’m thinking people don’t want to put the investment out there,” Page said.

It is a risk, said John Musso, owner of Big Top Fireworks, which has been in business for 59 years in the state and 24 years in Grand Junction.

In years past, vendors would invest in a permit, hire staff, bring in supplies and set up a tent, only to be told at the last minute a ban was in effect. 

“They tell us we can’t open, and we are out thousands of dollars in expenses,” Musso said.

The fireworks he and others sell in Colorado are mostly smoke, sparklers or small explosives such as Black Kats. Given the economy, Musso said he anticipates brisk sales of these government-approved ones.

“I think the American public is not going to travel that much,” he said. “It’s a three-day weekend. They are going to stay at home. They are going to barbecue, and they are going to shoot fireworks.”

Common sense and parental supervision can make using fireworks a safe experience.

Sparklers, for many parents, might seem appropriate for a child, but fire officials and fireworks sellers say that’s not so. 

“Probably the most dangerous of all fireworks is the common sparkler,” Page said. “The fire on those things is 1,800 degrees.”

More children are treated for injuries from sparklers than any other firework.


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