Fire District 1 resolution again asks county to ban fireworks

The county’s largest fire district is once again asking the Snohomish County Council to adopt a ban on the sale and discharge of fireworks in unincorporated areas.

The Snohomish County Fire District 1 Board of Commissioners earlier this month unanimously adopted a resolution in support of a county-wide fireworks ban. Fire district officials plan to deliver the resolution at the County Council meeting on June 19, 10:30 a.m., in the Henry M. Jackson Board Room, Eighth Floor, Robert J. Drewel Building (Administration Building East), 3000 Rockefeller, Everett.

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

Fire District 1 serves more than 200,000 residents in unincorporated south Snohomish County and the cities of Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. Those three cities ban fireworks, but the discharge of fireworks is legal on July 4 in the remainder of Fire District 1’s service area.

Fireworks have been responsible for more than $3.25 million in property loss in Fire District 1 since 2005, displacing 15 households from homes and apartments. “Fireworks use put people and property at risk every July 4. This is predictable, but also preventable,” McGaughey said.

The Fire District 1 Board has been asking for a county-wide ban for more than 10 years to no avail. However, last year the County Council adopted an ordinance that allows citizens in unincorporated areas to petition for a neighborhood fireworks ban. The council last year also granted the County Fire Marshal the ability to impose an emergency ban on fireworks during times of extreme drought.

“While these changes are a step in the right direction, we continue to support a county-wide ban. 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.”

He noted the Fire District 1 resolution seeks 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,” 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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