Fire District 1 seeks fireworks ban in unincorporated Snohomish County

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FD1-logoThose who travel to nearby unincorporated areas of Snohomish County on July 4 to shoot off fireworks may need to make a new plan this year.

Fire District 1, the county’s largest fire district, plans to ask the Snohomish County Council to adopt a ban on sale and discharge of fireworks in unincorporated areas.

The Snohomish County Fire District 1 Board of Commissioners last month unanimously adopted a resolution in support of a county-wide fireworks ban. Fire district officials plan to deliver the resolution when the County Council meets on June 15.

“We encourage citizens to join us at this meeting to voice support for a ban,” Commissioner Jim McGaughey, Fire District 1 board chair, said.

This is not the first time the ban has been proposed. Fire District 1 first filed a similar proposal in 2009, right after the county’s most devastating Fourth of July.

“We lost three houses in one night due to fireworks,” Fire District 1 spokeswoman Leslie Hynes said. “We’ve done this every year since, except 2011.”

The Snohomish County Council meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Henry M. Jackson Board Room, which is on the eighth floor of the Robert J. Drewel Building (Administration Building East) located at 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett.

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

In the past 10 years, 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.

“Citizens tell us they’re afraid to leave their homes on July 4 because of all the fireworks going off in their neighborhoods,” McGaughey said. “We are asking for a ban to restore their sense of security, reduce injuries and cut property losses.”

The resolution seeks a ban that would apply only to private fireworks use–professional displays would still be allowed.

“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, said Interim Fire Chief Brad Reading. “Bans in Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds 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, 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.

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