PHOENIX - Governor Jan Brewer has signed a bill allowing the sale and use of sparklers and other fireworks that shoot off sparks but don't explode.
The signing Monday caps years of lobbying by the fireworks industry, with governors vetoing versions in the 1990s.
It is currently illegal to buy, sell or use sparklers and other so-called "consumer-grade" fireworks in Arizona. The law takes effect Dec. 1.
Brewer expressed concern about wildfires when she vetoed a 2009 version and Valley firefighters say they were hoping she'd do the same this year.
"Fireworks and dangerous, especially to children," said Fire Investigator David Zehring from the Gilbert Fire Department. "It's going to cost the state a lot of money to fight these fires started by fireworks."
Many fire departments are also fighting budget cuts to staff and equipment and the windy dry conditions this spring will only make fireworks more difficult to control.
The National Fire Protection Agency says in 2006 fireworks caused an estimated 32,600 reported fires across the U.S. resulting in six civilians deaths, 70 injuries and $34 million in property damage.
"It doesn't matter if it's in the hands of the wrong people or the right people, there will be fires and injuries because of fireworks, we already see it with illegal fireworks," said Zehring.
This year's version will allow the state to collect a penalty for misuse of fireworks and to use the money for fire suppression.
The bill will allow cities to prohibit use of fireworks, and counties could restrict use in unincorporated areas during times of risk of wildfire.
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