Fire District seeks countywide ban, again

Esperance residents can now petition to ban their use
By Brian Soergel | Jun 30, 2017

As it has since 2005, the county’s largest fire district is again asking the Snohomish County Council to adopt a ban on the sale and discharge of fireworks in unincorporated areas.

The Snohomish County Fire District 1 Board of Commissioners earlier this month unanimously adopted a resolution in support of a countywide fireworks ban. It presented the resolution at a County Council meeting June 19.

Fire District 1 serves more than 200,000 residents in Edmonds, Brier and Mountlake Terrace, as well as in unincorporated south Snohomish County. That includes unincorporated Esperance between 220th and 228th streets SW.

Those three cities ban personal fireworks at all times, but the discharge of fireworks is legal on July 4 in unincorporated areas, including Esperance. Fireworks also are banned in Everett, Gold Bar, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Mukilteo and Woodway.

Fire District 1 spokeswoman Leslie Hynes added that the County Council has no authority to ban fireworks on the Tulalip Indian Reservation, although the Fire District would like it to do so.

Fireworks have been responsible for more than $3.25 million in property loss in Fire District 1 since 2005, displacing 15 households from homes and apartments, said Commissioner Jim McGaughey, Fire District 1 Board chairman.

“Fireworks use puts people and property at risk every July 4,” he said. “This is predictable, but also preventable.”

If you have an emergency, where there is an immediate threat to life or property, you should contact 911. If you need to report the illegal use of fireworks, you should call the nonemergency line at 425-775-3000.

Officers dispatched to fireworks complaints in Edmonds will investigate as call volume allows, Edmonds Police Sgt. Josh McClure said. If they observe a violation, they have the discretion to educate the violator or enforce the Edmonds Municipal Code banning the possession, use and discharge of fireworks.

“Fireworks may be confiscated and will then be brought to the police department,” McClure said, “where they are disposed of in a hazardous materials container.”

Citizens can petition

Although unsuccessful in a county-wide ban for more than 10 years, in 2016 the County Council adopted an ordinance allowing citizens in unincorporated areas to petition for a neighborhood fireworks ban.

No petitions have been filed, Fire District 1 spokeswoman Leslie Hynes said.

The County Council last year also granted the County Fire Marshal the ability to impose an emergency ban on fireworks during times of extreme drought.

“While these changes are a step in the right direction, we continue to support a county-wide ban.” McGaughey said. “Citizens tell us they’re afraid to leave their homes on July 4 because of all the fireworks going off in their neighborhoods. We are asking for a ban to restore their sense of security, reduce injuries and cut property losses.”

He noted the Fire District 1 resolution seeks a ban that would apply only to private fireworks use, and would still allow for professional displays, such as the annual Chamber of Commerce-sponsored display at Civic Park in Edmonds.

“Those who think it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without fireworks could attend a public display put on by trained professionals,” McGaughey said. “That’s the safest way to enjoy fireworks.”

Banning fireworks can be an effective method for reducing fireworks injuries and property loss, Interim Fire Chief Brad Reading said.

“Bans in Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace have been effective in reducing our call volumes, property loss and injuries.”

Typically, Fire District 1’s call load in the unincorporated area more than doubles on July 4, Hynes said.

To help handle the heavy volume of fireworks-related 911 calls expected on the holiday, Fire District 1 will have additional firefighters on duty July 4. “This will supplement the around-the-clock staffing we regularly provide at 12 fire stations in south Snohomish County,” Reading said.

State Fire Marshal Charles M. Duffy, who said there were 327 fireworks-related injuries and/or fires reported to his office by fire departments and hospital emergency rooms in 2016, reminds Washingtonians that the purchase of fireworks over the internet is illegal.

Fireworks must be purchased from a licensed retail fireworks stand during the legal sales period, which began June 28 and continues through July 5.


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