Fire District 1 calls for complete ban on private firework sales, use

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Fire District 1While many are celebrating this Independence Day by purchasing and lighting off fireworks, Commissioners of Snohomish County Fire District 1 would like to see the private sale and use of fireworks in the entire county eliminated.

Fire District 1 Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night calling for the county to ban the sale and discharge of fireworks in unincorporated areas.

Fire District 1 serves nearly 200,000 residents in unincorporated south Snohomish County, Brier, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Woodway. Three of the municipalities served by Fire District 1 — Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Woodway –already ban fireworks. The discharge of fireworks is legal on July 4 in the remainder of Fire District 1’s service area.

“The hot, dry weather we’ve experienced leading up to this year’s holiday has us especially concerned,” said David Chan, chairman of the Fire District 1 Board of Commissioners.

Since 2005, fireworks have been responsible for a total of more than $3.25 million in property loss in Fire District 1, displacing 15 households from homes and apartments. “This is a trend that is unacceptable,” Chan said. “As it stands now, we have citizens who tell us they won’t leave their homes on July 4 out of fear that an errant firework will destroy their property. A ban will restore their sense of security, reduce injuries and cut property losses.”

Chan noted the district supports a ban that would apply only to private fireworks use, and would still allow for professional displays.

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

Fire District 1 is encouraging other fire districts in the county to pass similar resolutions asking the Snohomish County Council to ban all fireworks except professional displays.

Banning fireworks can be an effective method for reducing fireworks injuries and property loss, said Fire Chief Ed Widdis. “Bans in Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds and Woodway 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. To help handle the heavy volume of fireworks-related 9-1-1 calls expected on the holiday, two additional engine companies will be in service on July 4. “This will supplement the around-the-clock staffing we regularly provide at 12 fire stations in south Snohomish County,” Widdis said.

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