Fire chiefs emphasize Fourth of July safety
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Local fire districts are preparing for dangers of fireworks shot off this Fourth of July.
Though neither Snohomish nor Monroe will be celebrating the holiday with city events, residents can and do often buy fireworks for their own private festivities.
Snohomish Fire District 4 Chief Ron Simmons emphasizes these safety rules to people celebrating America’s freedom:
“Remember the three B’s of firework safety,” Simmons said. “That’s Be Prepared – Have water near where you will be setting fireworks off and put pets indoors. Be Safe – Only adults should light fireworks. Be Responsible – Clean up fireworks debris.”
There are restrictions on what fireworks people can own or bring into town. If the incendiary is marked “for commercial purposes,” or sold at an American Indian reservation, these are often illegal to have.
“Class-C fireworks are legal, and can be purchased and then discharged at their residence,” Monroe Fire District 3 fire marshal Mike Fitzgerald said. “Non Class-C
fireworks are illegal. Some people will go buy fireworks on the reservation, because they’re cheaper, but they run the risk of purchasing fireworks that are non Class-C. That’s the problem with consumers, they may not know what they’re purchasing. It is legal to purchase on the reservation, but it’s illegal to transport them off the reservation.”
The biggest safety tips Simmons has are:
• Set fireworks off on solid surfaces or on dirt.
• Always have a bucket of water or charged garden hose available.
• Be aware of where people are when you are discharging fireworks, make sure that are out of range.
• Do not try to re-ignite fireworks that appear to be “duds,” because they can go off in your hand or face.
• Do not try to make your own fireworks or modify fireworks for greater effects.
• Make sure spent fireworks are cool before handling.
• Never drink alcohol and use fireworks at the same time.
• Only discharge fireworks that are legal to possess in Washington state. Obey local laws.
In this state last year, there were 341 reported injuries and fires, the majority occurring on the Fourth of July. Most of the injuries happened to men above the age of 36.
Notably, 51, or almost one-sixth, of last year’s firework-related injuries involved devices illegal to possess in Washington state, Simmons said.
Fitzgerald said that all of the fireworks sold locally in Monroe are legal and are usually sold for a fundraiser or charity event. He encourages people to go that route when buying fireworks.
“July Fourth is very busy for us, because there’s a lot of fireworks that go off in Monroe, especially in West Monroe or the Fryelands area,” Fitzgerald said. “We have a very low incidence rate of fireworks events in our jurisdiction, so we’re very fortunate. ... But statewide, there are a lot of incidents. There is a huge disparity between legal and illegal, but (in Monroe) we just don’t see the disparity that the state sees statewide.”
When can I use fireworks?
In Snohomish, Monroe and in unincorporated Snohomish County outside city limits, the rules are uniform:
• People may only discharge fireworks on July 4 from 9 a.m. until midnight.
• No discharging in city parks, or other public places. Residents can only discharge on their own property.