Firework ban list steadily growing around Puget Sound

Jun 27, 2016, 5:27 AM | Updated: Dec 14, 2016, 12:00 pm
fireworks, ban...
Many Washington cities have banned the sale, use and possession of fireworks. (AP)

Fireworks are a symbol of freedom for many, but for others they are a nuisance. The latter sentiment seems to be an increasingly dominant perspective.

A bevy of Washington communities have banned fireworks, with a considerable number around Puget Sound in recent years. There was a string of bans in the ’90s when Seattle, Bellevue, Everett and Redmond were among many to nix the tradition. In 2005, cities such as Des Moines and Renton approved their own bans. Bellingham put a ban into place in 2014. One-by-one over the past couple decades, Puget Sound area communities have voted to rid their towns of the explosives.

Related: Unruly behavior has Long Beach residents on high alert for July 4

Marysville and Brier are among the most recent cities to approve bans.  This Fourth of July will be the last year residents are allowed to legally set off fireworks in either cities. Bans take effect in 2017.

In January, Marysville passed a ban of the sale, possession or discharge of fireworks — after voters advised they would approve such a ban by 59 percent. Violating the ban carries a $103 fine for the first year, and $513 fine after two years.

But Marysville and Brier are not unique. Lynnwood is about two years ahead of them. As one of the last holdouts, 2015 was the first year of its ban.

“We got lots and lots of complaints throughout the years from our residents,” said Julie Moore with the City of Lynwood. “Some people were coming to Lynnwood from our neighboring cities that have banned fireworks. We had a lot of outsiders that came to Lynnwood to light off fireworks in our empty lots.”

Complaints in Lynnwood were similar to other communities: pets were startled by the noise which was also annoying to some neighbors; and fires were sparked by the devices.

It’s not entirely clear how effective the ban has been because Lynwood changed how it documented its 911 calls for fireworks-related offenses over the past few years, according to a city official. Initially, the city only counted the fireworks-related incidents that posed a risk to life or property. But in 2014 they started counting all fireworks calls because of the ban — including noise complaints, sightings, etc. This caused calls to shoot up quite a bit.

• 47 fireworks calls in 2012
• 57 fireworks calls in 2013
• 148 fireworks calls in 2014
• 92 fireworks calls in 2015

Moore notes that the summer of 2015 was rather dry, which caused a lot more brush fires related to fireworks. Otherwise, she thinks the numbers would be lower.

Legal fireworks sales begin Tuesday and run through July 5. The state allows fireworks to be discharged between June 29 and July 5 but some local municipalities have stricter regulations.

State Fire Marshal Charles M. Duffy is asking people to only purchase and discharge legal fireworks and to know the laws in their town.

>>Find the latest rules and ordinances in your area.

This year, 867 retail fireworks stand licenses were issued.

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Firework ban list steadily growing around Puget Sound