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July 4th
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Fireworks could soon be banned in unincorporated King County

Fireworks show at Seattle's Gas Works Park. (KIRO Radio)

Councilmember Joe McDermott introduced Legislation to ban fireworks entirely in unincorporated King County on Thursday.

Advisory vote on fireworks band in unincorporated Snohomish County passing

In 2019, a 70-year-old man died in a house fire in White Center, and a home in Renton caught fire, both due to fireworks on the Fourth of July.

“The tragic death last 4th of July in White Center demonstrates the true danger to public health posed by fireworks,” McDermott said. “While I understand that fireworks are a time-honored tradition in our country, we must recognize that unincorporated King County remains as one of the last jurisdictions in our region where you can legally purchase and discharge fireworks without a permit. We must do everything we can to protect our residents from further human tragedies, as well protect our natural areas from the increased risk of wildfire due to climate change.”

Fireworks are already banned in 25 jurisdictions in King County. Restrictions in unincorporated King County are limited and rarely enforced. Currently, law enforcement and fire officials have to review many details in order to determine if a firework fits under the law.

McDermott is proposing that all fireworks are illegal, including sparklers and other “safe” options. This ban would not apply to permitted fireworks displays or fireworks on tribal lands.

If approved, there is a one-year waiting period before the ban takes effect. This period would provide a chance for the county to run an educational campaign.

Where you can and can’t set off fireworks

“With our dense population, and increasingly dry summers, this legislation is a necessary step for public safety,” King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht said. “While we recognize the importance of celebrating our nation’s independence, protecting life and property is paramount. We encourage our residents to celebrate at safe, permitted fireworks displays.”

The proposed legislation will go to committee at the next full council meeting.

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