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The Daily Wildcat

74° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Firework sales explode for fourth of July

Effective Dec. 1, 2010, the state of Arizona made the sale and use of fireworks legal. This change has prompted a seasonal surge of roadside firework stands, as well as sparking new traditions for Tucson residents.

With Independence Day fast approaching, the city and residents of Tucson are gearing up for the pyrotechnic flare of both professional and amateur fireworks.

Arizona State firework law is relatively convoluted, and varies from county to county. Thanks to Senate Bill 1158, Pima and Maricopa County residents can be sure that their right to light and sell Fourth of July fireworks is protected. The exception is that the fireworks sold and used within the county must be approved for sale and deemed “consumer fireworks.”

Approved consumer grade fireworks are still only legal at certain times of the year. May 20 was the first day this year residents could legally purchase fireworks in Tucson, and that window ends on July 6. Fireworks once again become available in the winter, from Dec. 10 to Jan. 3 — just in time to bring in the new year with a bang.

The dates that actual ignition of fireworks is legal differ slightly from the dates during which they are available for sale. The use of fireworks becomes legal from June 24 to July 6 and again from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3. If a Tucson resident were to choose not adhere to these legal use dates, they would face a $1,000 fine.

Barrett Baker, public information officer for the Tucson Fire Department, is a voice of safety for this Fourth of July weekend. His advice for using approved fireworks is simple: Just be safe.

“Follow the instructions, be aware you are still handling something dangerous, and prepare for the worst,” Baker said. The most common calls to TFD during the Fourth of July are related to fireworks, such as burns to the hand and brushfires.

Baker could not overstate the importance of staying away from illegal, unapproved fireworks -— particularly the ones that leave the ground and detonate in the air.

Of course, not all Tucson residents have followed the rules. Sociology junior Katie Emory remembers driving over the New Mexico border to get fireworks even before they became legal in 2010.

“Every trip my family took to New Mexico we would pick up fireworks,” Emory said. “My neighbors growing up always had fireworks, too, so we would go over there for the fourth.”

Here in Tucson, the legalization of consumer fireworks has sparked a new seasonal industry, and a competitive one at that. The local roadside fireworks stands that pop up all over the city are beginning to steal business from the large, well-established fireworks vendors just over the New Mexico border.

“Yeah, they don’t like us very much,” said Ernesto Valenzuela from, a roadside fireworks stand on the corner of Park Avenue and Irvington Road. “In just four years of being open, we’ve gained a good amount of clientele.”

Those large New Mexico vendors are trying to move in on the local fireworks stand’s territory. Phantom Fireworks, one of the large vendors with stands from coast to coast, is one of the popular firework sellers just over the New Mexico border with stands in the Tucson area. Valenzuela isn’t worried, though.

“They are no competition,” he said. “Our customers come back to us because they know we have things that others do not.” 

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