No fireworks in Tempe to start 2019

The East Valley’s signature New Year’s Eve fireworks display has been cancelled.

The City of Tempe announced Monday that “extremely dry conditions” on A Mountain, or Hayden Butte Preserve,” create “too great a fire risk for the public first responders, fireworks technicians and the mountain itself,” said city spokeswoman Melissa Quillard.

Fireworks for the downtown celebration are launched from the mountain for best downtown viewing.

But the city rejected the fireworks permit submitted by the Downtown Tempe Authority in conjunction with festivities various bars plan along Mill Avenue. 

"While there will be no fireworks display at midnight, the originally planned festivities at venues along Mill Avenue will continue as planned," said authority spokeswoman Jazmine Reyes. Those festivities can be checked out at downtowntempe.com/do/nye-on-mill-avenue.

At issue with the fireworks cancellation is more than just a possible brush fire, Quillard noted.

“Hayden Butte was declared a preserve in 2002 because of its significant historical and cultural significance, as well as its abundant desert fauna and flora,” she said. “The preserve contains approximately 500 petroglyphs, or rock art images, that were made by the Hohokam between A.D. 750 and 1450. The city is in the process of crafting a Hayden Butte Management Plan.”

She noted that the 2018 International Fire Code and the 2018 edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s Code for Fireworks Display require a fallout zone for fireworks that is free of trees, shrubs, or other combustible materials which would pose a serious fire safety threat.”

Interim Assistant Fire Chief Andrea Glass also indicated that the authority may well have to look elsewhere in the future for at least the New Year’s Eve fireworks show.

“There are alternative fireworks locations that could be considered for future opportunities,” said Glass. “We could resume New Year’s Eve fireworks at one of these other locations in the future but health and safety for our whole community and our environment has to come first.”

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