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Kristin Foss started her April 2nd presentation to the Salmon City Council by saying she understands the city’s decision to not sponsor a fireworks display is one of acting in what it feels is the best interest of citizens of Salmon. She said her concern is that decision is based on insufficient information.

In her 15 minute talk Foss outlined the radius of fireworks fall-out material as related to shell size, the National Fire Protection Association Code and under what circumstances the city would become liable in the event of any damages. She maintained the city should be the fireworks sponsor since city and county governments are automatically considered to be legal authorizing entities and do not have to file the additional applications required of nonprofit service organizations. Foss said disallowing the city’s insurance coverage provided by ICRMP (Idaho Counties Risk Management Program) places the financial burden of acquiring insurance on the nongovernmental agency and/or the fireworks provider and those costs would limit the size and duration of the fireworks display.

She pointed to the 42 year no-incident history of fireworks displays and said the city’s sponsorship refusal is based on ‘what ifs.’ Foss said she wants a conservative city government that strives to protect against reasonable liability however; “I do not want a city government that anticipates imaginary threats, isolates its citizens from the remotest risk and does so under the sanctimonious guise of public service.” She said the city’s not sponsoring the fireworks display would be a disservice and would show disrespect to local military veterans who have put themselves at risk for this country. Foss said, “If this city won’t risk a hillside of cheat grass to honor their [the veterans] sacrifice, then shame on it.” She stated that cities all across the state sponsor fireworks displays.

The council asked City Clerk Mary Benton for comment. She traced the past history of Salmon Valley Chamber of Commerce sponsorship and the difference between the city’s letter of support and a commitment to sponsorship. In her opinion the letter of support with Kristin’s father, former pyro-technician Gary Foss, was for financial support. When Dr. Richard Natelson took over the fireworks displays he said the letter was to cover liability insurance and that is the point at which the whole question of insurance surfaced.

Benton has spoken at length with ICRMP and has recently talked with the communities of Bonner’s Ferry and Boise. She said in Bonner’s Ferry the city and the county both have ICRMP insurance and do sponsor fireworks events. The city of Boise treats fireworks displays as it does any other vendor and vendors have to buy their own insurance. In the case of fireworks the insurance is much more expensive. In Boise the city is named in the vendor’s $6 million policy. Benton quoted a Boise city official as saying they would not put their city at risk by sponsoring a fireworks display.

In the past the city of Salmon has contributed $1,500 a year to the local 4th of July display. More recently the Local Option Tax has annually supplied $1,500 and a trust fund established by Gary Anderson to specifically fund the fireworks display paid $1,500 per year. With the close of the Chamber of Commerce the whereabouts of that trust fund has not been ascertained. Councilman Jim Bockelman said the financing of the show is one part of the issue.

Councilman Fred Waidely made a motion to table the fireworks discussion until all the facts involved are known, including funding and who is responsible for what. Bockelman asked that research on the part of the city staff be added to the motion. The motion to table passed unanimously and the topic of fireworks will be further discussed at the council’s April 16 meeting.

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