Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 | 6:17 p.m.
Elaborate fireworks displays are a staple of New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Las Vegas Strip. Starting this December, Clark County residents may be able to get in on the fun with fireworks of their own if commissioners lift a ban restricting sales to only the Fourth of July holiday.
Commissioners heard a proposal today from retailer TNT Fireworks pushing the county to allow the sale of fireworks for personal use on New Year’s Eve.
Currently fireworks can only be sold in Clark County in the days leading up to and including the Fourth of July.
Despite the ban during the rest of the year, some residents travel to other counties or states to obtain fireworks and then illegally set them off in Clark County to celebrate various other holidays.
Representatives of TNT Fireworks said allowing sales around New Year’s Eve would provide a safer alternative for residents wanting to set off fireworks at their homes. The sales also would provide a way for local nonprofit groups like churches, sports teams or Scout troops to raise money from operating fireworks stands, said Chris Kaempfer, representing TNT Fireworks.
“We want to discourage the purchase and sale of illegal fireworks, which is happening,” said Kaempfer, who pointed out 45 states including Arizona and Utah allow the legal sale of fireworks around New Year’s Eve. “The idea is there would be families who would be able to secure legal fireworks instead of going out of our county.”
Commissioners were open to the idea but had plenty of questions they want answered before possibly voting on an ordinance.
Chief among their concerns was how allowing legal fireworks sales would impact safety on the Las Vegas Strip, which draws upwards of 300,000 people on New Year’s Eve.
Clark County Fire Chief Bertral Washington said allowing residents to purchase and use fireworks on New Year’s Eve could further stretch the fire department’s resources, which already have to accommodate for the influx of tourists on the Strip.
Commissioner Tom Collins said illegal fireworks already were being set off during New Year’s Eve, so it might benefit the county to keep sales local where they could be better monitored.
“It’s happening anyway,” Collins said. “If we’re doing it with nonprofit folks making a little money for a ball team and it’s with sane-and-safe legal fireworks versus all the illegal ones, it might be some progress.”
Staff was directed at the meeting to begin crafting an ordinance allowing the sale of fireworks around New Year’s Eve, although commissioners offered no indication whether they would ultimately support the measure when it came time for a vote. At least two more public meetings on the issue are required before commissioners vote on the item, although no timeline has been set.
Even if the commissioners approve the change, it would apply only to residents in unincorporated parts of the county. Governments in Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas would have to make similar changes to allow fireworks sales around New Year’s Eve.