Firework Regulations and Safety
Drought conditions throughout the state has created extreme fire conditions, including areas within the city of Rio Rancho. Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue Department officials are monitoring the fire dangers daily and have implemented restrictions on burning and fireworks to reduce the risk of a catastrophic wild fire.
Low relative humidity levels, high winds, and the lack of significant rainfall in the foreseeable future have increased the risk of an out-of-control fire. Fire Chief Michael Meek has temporarily suspended any open burning within the city limits until conditions improve. Normally, citizens would call the Burn Line (505-891-7268) to receive a message on the ability to burn small piles of dry weeds. This message is based on fire weather conditions each day. Until further notice, the Burn Line message will indicate that burning is prohibited.
Fireworks also pose a significant fire danger. The city of Rio Rancho prohibits fireworks that go higher than 10 feet, travel outside a 6-foot radius, and are louder than a cap gun. In addition, igniting fireworks, starting or maintaining any fire, or smoking in the Rio Grande Bosque area in Rio Rancho are prohibited at all times per city ordinances.
For a number of years, the city of Rio Rancho has had a ban in place regarding all of the types of fireworks it can legally prohibit under state statue. Only changes to state law would give the city of Rio Rancho authority to ban the sale and use of currently legal fireworks in the community.
Citizens should be cautious that purchasing fireworks from a vendor does not always mean that they are legal for use within city limits. If you believe illegal fireworks are being sold or used in Rio Rancho, please contact the Police Department’s non-emergency telephone number, (505) 891-7226.
Penalties for violating the city’s ordinances pertaining to fireworks include a fine up to $500, 90 days of jail time, or both. In addition, fireworks in violation of the city’s municipal code can be seized by city public safety personnel.
The weather pattern over the past few years has created a severe drought situation in the Southwest, and New Mexico has experienced wild land fires. Wild fires can move very quickly and homes and property located near open space are vulnerable to damaging fires.
Lack of rain and high winds have caused tinder-dry vegetation in open space areas, forests, and along the Rio Rancho Bosque area. This has created a very high fire danger, especially when open burning or fireworks are added to the equation. Due to existing high fire danger, the portions of the Bosque (all paths, ditch roads near the Bosque, and forest/trees) that fall within the city of Rio Rancho’s limits have been closed to the public since Monday, May 27, 2013, and will remain closed until further notice.
Although fireworks are a traditional part of any Fourth of July celebration, improper use or using illegal fireworks can start a fire and potentially damage open spaces, homes, and other property. Sparks or embers from fireworks can light grasses, weeds and trees on fire. When fanned by high winds, the destruction can be significant. Something as innocent as a sparkler can create enough heat and sparks to cause a fire.
Safety Tips When Using Fireworks
The Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue Department and the New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office are asking citizens to have a safe and enjoyable time during this upcoming holiday season by offering these safety tips if fireworks are going to be used:
ALWAYS read and follow the label directions.
ALWAYS have an adult present when handling fireworks.
ALWAYS buy from a reliable fireworks vendor.
ALWAYS ignite fireworks outdoors.
ALWAYS have a water source handy.
ALWAYS light one firework at a time.
ALWAYS store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
ALWAYS dispose of fireworks properly.
ALWAYS use fireworks in an area clear of any vegetation.
NEVER light fireworks in the Bosque or in the National Forests.
NEVER hold a lighted firework in your hands.
NEVER re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
NEVER give fireworks to small children.
NEVER experiment with or attempt to make your own fireworks.
NEVER throw fireworks at another person.
NEVER carry fireworks in your pockets.
NEVER shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
Alternative to Using Fireworks/Recommendation
The Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue Department encourages citizens to take-in a professional fireworks show this holiday season as an alternative to igniting fireworks on their own.
Coordinated by the city of Rio Rancho Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, the Rio Rancho High School Football Stadium on Loma Colorado Boulevard will serve as the best venue to enjoy one of New Mexico’s biggest and best fireworks shows on Thursday, July 4 at approximately 9 p.m. There is no admission fee to attend this fireworks show.
The stadium will open at 6 p.m. and concessions will be available for purchase. Alcoholic beverages and smoking are not permitted. Spectators are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets. Parking will be available at the high school and the adjacent Rio Rancho Aquatic Center, Loma Colorado Main Library, and Loma Colorado Park for a $5 fee, which benefits the Rio Rancho and Cleveland high school booster clubs.
Also at Rio Rancho High School, at the practice field located in front of the football stadium, a family friendly movie projected onto a large inflatable screen will begin at approximately 8:15 p.m. A 30-minute intermission in the showing of the movie will take place at 9 p.m. so that spectators can enjoy the fireworks show. There is no admission fee to watch the outdoor movie.
For more information about the city’s fireworks event and other special events taking place on the Fourth of July, please contact the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department at (505) 891-5015, or visit the following city Web page