City Manager: Fireworks ban has significantly reduced city costs and resources

While it may not have actually sounded like it, the 4th of July in Mountlake Terrace required minimal responses from the Fire, Police and various City departments.

Snohomish County Fire District 1 reported that, for the 3rd year in a row, they had no fireworks related calls in the City. Leslie Hynes from FD1 said that while they had no calls in MLT they did have one tree fire in Brier, two small grass fires in Edmonds and 19 calls in the unincorporated areas of Snohomish County that they serve. Hynes also said that FD1 Deputy Chief Steve Sherman was patrolling Mountlake Terrace on July 4 and said that the few people he encountered with fireworks were very cooperative when he informed them of the ban.

Mountlake Terrace City Manager John Caulfield reported Tuesday to the City Council that the police department responded to 33 fireworks related calls. Most resulted in verbal warnings and no citations were given out. A small number of fireworks were confiscated and a couple of mailboxes suffered damage from some sort of fireworks.

Caulfield also said that before the ban on personal fireworks was enacted it would take City Public Works and Parks staff several days, if not weeks, to clean up all of the fireworks related debris on City streets and in City parks. Since the ban was enacted, including this year, there has been very little cleanup necessary on streets, in parks and parking lots and a significant decline in restroom vandalism.

The city was well prepared and ready to respond should emergencies have arisen this past weekend. The good news is that the fireworks ban that was implemented 5 years ago now, beginning in 2007, has resulted in not only a much quieter and safer community compared to the previous years, prior to the ban, but also significantly reduced city costs and resources before, during and after the holiday.

City Manager John Caulfield

The ban on fireworks continues to be a sore subject with some Mountlake Terrace residents. One homeowner decided to make a statement with the sign reading “Communist China has fireworks. WTF MLT?” @Wygle sent us the photo below. When posted to the MLTnews Facebook Page the photo received dozens of comments both from supporters of the ban and those displeased with it.

Some have argued that the ban kills years of tradition and the ability to be patriotic, others argue for the ban because it is dangerous and a waste of taxpayers money to have to clean up after people who are irresponsible with fireworks.

Do you agree/disagree with the fireworks ban? Do you think it is effective? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Tom Magliery via Flickr using a CC-BY-NC-SA license.

  1. I think the City has the right to ban fireworks and if the majority of the people don’t agree, they can elect new leadership.  I would be interested to know how many citations were issued for the illegal discharge of fireworks and if the police are not going to enforce the laws, why do we bother passing them?  Some cities setup specific areas where neighbors can come together and light fireworks in relative safety and I am surprised there is not some middle ground to be found.  Why does it have to be all or nothing?

  2. I agree with Randal & Mark. It would seem logical to enforce the laws with citations, especially next year since apparently many have received warnings thus far. It would also be helpful if signs were posted at key intersections when entering the City leading up to the 4th. I have seen these in neighboring municipalities.

    Regarding a central area where people can set them off…who will pay the City’s insurance if someone is injured? In our suit happy culture, people act stupidly, then expect the “government” to pay when they injure themselves or others. I personally like the ban, but want it enforced with citations.

  3. This is America, we celebrate our independence by lighting fireworks. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s communist to ban them, but I definitely believe it’s un-American. I will vote for any candidates this year who will commit to repealing the fireworks ban in our city.

    1. Andrew,

      I am running for council against our currant Mayor Pro Tem, and I will vote to lift the ban on fireworks.  I was pretty dissappointed that I had to go to a different city to celebrate our Nations birthday.  All we need is a central location  to have people light them and then when they are done they clean up their mess. My name is Christina O’Brien  and I would definitely appreciate your support. A vote for me insures a yes vote for fireworks next year.

      1. The city has wasted enough time visiting this issue over the years, fireworks are banned and the city has demonstrated that this ban is saving our money (and lives, and property).  I think it is sad that the only way some people can celebrate freedom and the birth of our country is to blow things up.  Have a BBQ, read the Declaration of Independence, take a vet out for a milkshake.  For the tea-partiers out there – why do you want to send more of your good money to China for fireworks when you could buy some American grown apples and make a pie?

        1. I personally won’t vote for someone who puts fireworks as part of their campaign list of to-dos in office.

          I agree, the city, and its residents, have wasted far too much time on this topic (myself included) and its really time to move on to matters that are more important to the well being and growth of our city.

          The lighting of fireworks 5-6 days of each year is not the topic.

          Fireworks are banned, get over it, let’s move on.

  4. I was on the fence about this ban thing,   thinking that people should have to right to celebrate an important date as they please, but after another night of waking up to a rude blast of illegal fireworks (please notice I’m writing this at almost midnight 7/7/2011…3 days after the legit date!!!)  I’m moving very rapidly to the pro-ban column and I really want this irresponsible people to be dealt with the most cruel penalty possible.   I’m PISSED.  Enough is enough…and people still wonders why we lose the privileges we think we entitle too.   F&%^ this!!!

    1. Sadly what you are describing will never change even with the local ban, you are dreaming just like the “Knitter” if you think it will. It will never change because it would take a federal ban, and that will NEVER happen !!!  As a society we cant even wise up about substance abuse (Alcohol-Marijuana-Perscription-etc) no matter how many lives are lost and no matter what the damage to the society, TOO MUCH MONEY to be made !!! 
      But this is a “Rights” issue, there should be an area where people can legally and safely use fireworks in celebration of “Independence Day” in THEIR community, otherwise it is a violation of “Rights” !!!  Can someone tell me if the citizens of the community had the opportunity to vote on the fireworks ban ???

      1. I don’t believe this is an issue that is generally decided by a public vote so I assume it was just a City Council vote. The ban was approved in 2006 and put in to effect in 2007.

        1. Shane Hope, AICP Community and Economic Development Director, City of Mountlake Terrace, shared to a blog last year:”The
          ban enacted was in 2006. Because of state law, such bans cannot take
          effect for at least one year after adoption. Therefore, our city’s ban went into effect the following year, 2007. It
          was enacted because of concerns from (a) local residents regarding both
          safety and noise and (b) fire officials regarding safety—i.e., personal
          injuries and fire damage. A minor issue (though still a factor) was
          the resources needed for the City’s clean-up of the fireworks debris
          (from people using fireworks and leaving the mess). When the ban was
          being considered, residents stated that the fireworks use was like
          living in a war zone. The ban has been successful. While
          occasional fireworks are still let off (illegally), the number of
          incidents are few and the level of accidents and noise are down
          significantly. For example, this year [2010]after the 4th of July, our
          fire district (which serves multiple communities) reported that it
          received 14 calls related to fireworks damage in communities that did
          not have fireworks bans. In Mountlake Terrace, the Fire District had no
          calls (zero) related to fireworks.”No, it isn’t a community vote, but the community and many people contributed to discussions and debate over the ban.

          1. Thanks for posting this, I wasn’t having any luck trying to find this info.

  5. I think there should be an area, like the large dirt soccer field on 56th at 222nd, where it is legal for families to light fireworks the night of the fourth. Have a firetruck, aid car, police, and a few garbage cans on scene for a patrolled enviroment along with some loud speakers for music and anouncements. Obviously since the field would be patrolled, the fireworks would all be safe and sane ones that people brought and people would clean up after them selves. This would be a great event for families and the consession stand could even be open. Lets celebrate our FREEDOM with our children and give them an event to remember, not bum them out.

  6. I’m sorry that some of you think a 200+ year old American tradition should be banned. Lighting fireworks is an older tradition than apple pie or a bbq.

    If folks are so determined to ban them, then I believe the same standard should be applied to the Tour de Terrace event. If fireworks are banned, then there doesn’t need to be any special priviledges for a community event.

    Weigh the balance on the scales – Fireworks on 4th of July – American Holiday, celebrated for 200+ years vs. Fireworks at Tour de Terrace -community event <20 years.

    Seems a bit one-sided to me. This is an issue that I will at some point bring to the City Council. The standard should be the same accross the board. 

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