EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso County Commissioners unanimously voted Thursday to ban the sale of aerial fireworks with sticks and missiles with fins, also known “sticks and fins," for the July 4 holiday period as drought conditions continue throughout the county.
During a meeting of Commissioners Court, commissioners were given three options provided to them by the governmental affairs manager: Continue all firework sales, ban "sticks and fins," or have the county judge ban the sale of all fireworks for 60 hours and issue an local disaster declaration.
The options to ban certain fireworks were based off the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) which determines forest fire potential. The threshold to ban fireworks begins at 575. El Paso's KBDI is currently at 715, the second driest county in the state.
County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said the county needed to find a balance between public safety and meeting the needs of the businesses who sell fireworks.
Chief Roger Esparza, fire marshal with ESD #2, which oversees far east El Paso County, recommended to commissioners to ban the sale of "sticks and fins" because those pose "one of the most prevalent fire hazards."
“When it comes to the fireworks, whether it's bad or not, we will still have a task on hand to see how we're going to handle the fireworks coming from across New Mexico," Esparza added.
He said after speaking with several fireworks vendors, the recommendation to ban "sticks and fins" was received well by them.