The power of President Abraham Lincoln’s time-honored phrase, “A government of the people, by the people, for the people” took on added meaning for me with the unrest of 2020. With every adversity, I proudly watched our citizens unite together for the greater good of our community. During potentially divisive issues, our community chose to find more to connect us, than divide us, as I knew we would!
Who could have possibly predicted the onslaught of national and state challenges we would face together as a city? First came the pandemic, then the drought, followed by major concerns over fireworks usage and the wildfires they could cause. Through it all, our citizens took the safety of their community into their own hands.
With severe drought conditions and a legal inability to ban fireworks, we relied on our citizens to be fire-wise during their July 4th celebrations. Our simple message of “Play It Safe in the Parks” resonated, with a whopping 85% of fireworks being safely discharged in our parks. An even better statistic is 0 — as in, no grass or structure fires. We did issue one citation for discharge within the restricted zone, which can carry up to a $1,000 fine, so we remind citizens of their personal responsibility should they choose to light fireworks.
As the fireworks discharge window closed, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Chief James Miguel noted with pride that Provo was the only community he’d found in his long career so readily compliant when given a safe way to discharge fireworks and protect our urban interface. The clear air and overflowing fireworks disposal bins at the parks proved it was the success we hoped it would be. A “Grand Slam,” in the words of our grateful fire marshal, Lynn Schofield. Definitely words a mayor wants to hear!
With fireworks sold on every corner and a citywide ban both illegal and unenforceable, we chose to find a safe way to celebrate together. Provo’s philosophy during fireworks season is quite simple: Share information on the extreme danger; provide safer options and extend trust to our citizens to make wise choices. I knew we could!
Successful solutions happen when a city works with its citizens, with our continued goal being to strengthen that connection. A government is simply its people. In each trying circumstance we’ve experienced, the government has played a role, but without the action of its citizens, success would not be possible. By design, government action alone can only go so far. Citizen engagement is and always will be the critical difference maker.
I can’t help but be impressed by the overall responsiveness of our citizens. We are a community-minded people, with Provo being in the top 10 nationally for charitable donations. Yes we may at times disagree with one another, but we value this community and we value each other. That’s surely part of why we are affectionately known as the “world capital of volunteerism.”
We connected during crises and now let’s continue to build on our city-citizen connection daily. Stay engaged with the monthly Connect newsletter mailed to all Provo resident homes or visit us at our recently launched information dashboard at ProvoConnect.com. We’ll not only have all of our updated fire safety information, but also city project updates, event information, helpful videos, online newsletters and our latest citizen survey.
The resounding success of our July 4th “Play It Safe in the Parks” has prompted Provo Fire & Rescue to again work with our tireless Parks and Recreation team to open 14 of our parks for our community to safely celebrate Utah’s pioneer heritage. We appreciate our park employees for their dedicated support of safety regardless of the debris left behind. As a reminder, both fireworks and trash bins are available at all parks, so please do your part to keep our parks clean.
With hot weather expected and fire conditions more dangerous, we again trust our citizens to protect our community during the upcoming open fire discharge window opening July 22 at 11 a.m.
A well-run government is one where the people, and those who are privileged to serve them, work together to solve local issues and by doing so, build better communities. I know we can.