Bess Talks Fireworks & Fire Safety

By Doug Bess, Interim Salida Fire Chief

As most of you are aware by now, the Salida Fire Department will not be shooting fireworks off “S” Mountain on the 4th of July.  With high temps, lack of moisture and no relief in sight, postponing the show is the right choice.

With 13 wildfires currently burning in Colorado, many neighboring communities have cancelled their shows.  Salida City Council has taken a proactive stance with the passing of the emergency ordinance banning the sale and use of fireworks as well as postponing the fire department’s annual display.  I realize that Independence Day and Fireworks go hand in hand and this is a disappointment for some.  On the other hand, we are very lucky in our community to not have had a large wildfire. By postponing the display, the fire department is doing their part in reducing the wildfire risk.

The staff of Salida Fire Department looks forward to shooting the fireworks every year.    Countless man hours are spent planning, setting up, and shooting the display.  During the shoot we rely on assistance from other agencies to control spot fires on the mountain.  Due to the current lack of resources state wide and the possibility of a local fire, we can’t guarantee that the assisting agencies would be available.

The Salida Fire Department and South Arkansas Fire Protection District, along with Chaffee County Fire Protection District, have taken appropriate measures to be as prepared as possible in the event of a wildfire.  Utilizing Mutual Aid agreements between the agencies we will aggressively attack any new starts.  As Chief Wingert of CCFPD relayed to me, “The one big advantage we have going for us in the county is that all the borders can be seen from just about anywhere in the county, making smoke plumes easily visible.”  We encourage all citizens to report any smoke sightings by calling 911.

The citizens of Salida have been very generous with their donations as well as the Salida Business Alliance. Without you, our show would not be possible. The Salida Fire Department will not be collecting donations by driving around town as we have done every year in the past.  If we are able to have a fireworks display later in the year, we will consider a collection drive at that time.  People that wish to donate can always drop off donations at the fire station or place their donations in the many boots we have in local businesses.

Please be extremely careful during this dry summer.  One spark could start a fire that could spread very quickly putting lives and homes in jeopardy.  Currently, we are under Stage II restrictions in Chaffee County.  Check with your local fire department for updated bans and restrictions.

There will be a full day of activities on the 4th of July in downtown Salida, including a video fireworks display at Riverside Park beginning at 9:30 P.M.  Have a safe and happy holiday!