Fireworks Ban Works, Says Fire Department Fires, Injuries Down Dramatically

Eliminating the rockets’ red glare from Fourth of July celebrations in Spokane has dramatically reduced the need for the siren’s loud blare.

Fires and injuries attributed to pyrotechnics have dropped faster than a spent bottle rocket since the city banned the use of fireworks in 1993, according to Fire Department records released Monday.

In the five years before the ban went into effect, Spokane-area emergency room nurses and doctors treated 124 people who were injured by fireworks, the records say.

Since the ban, they’ve handled eight such cases, including four this year.

City fire crews have seen a similar decline in fires caused by firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles, Chief Bobby Williams said.

Between 1988 and 1992, firefighters responded to 464 blazes they believe were sparked by fireworks, Williams said. Since 1993, they’ve gone out on 11 such fires only one so far this year.

“It’s been remarkably effective,” he said. “Some people might say it’s been due to cooler, wetter weather. But we believe a lot of it is directly related to the ban.”

Williams on Monday warned members of the city’s Public Safety Committee that fireworks manufacturers are launching a lobbying effort in the Washington Legislature and cities statewide to overturn such bans.

“They have people who are good with words and numbers who will argue that the bans really don’t have an impact,” Williams said. “We would ask that you keep this one in place.”

The committee was supportive.

“You can’t argue with these numbers,” said City Councilman Jeff Colliton, a member of the panel.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: A safer and saner Fourth

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