Spokane fire crews will patrol the city this weekend through Independence Day, potentially issuing $536 fines to those caught shooting off illegal fireworks.
Roman candles, mortars, smoke bombs, sparklers – and any other fireworks that have a fuse – are prohibited in city limits. Firecrackers, bottle rockets and missile-type fireworks are banned statewide.
“A lot of people don’t think sparklers are illegal, but they are,” said Megan Phillips, an assistant fire marshal for the city. “Anything that you have to light is not allowed.”
Consumer fireworks also are banned in unincorporated parts of Spokane County and in the cities of Millwood, Liberty Lake, Cheney and Spokane Valley.
Meanwhile, in Deer Park, Airway Heights and Medical Lake festivities may include shooting off some types of fireworks – although only Deer Park allows them to be fired on days other than the Fourth of July.
Fireworks still can be purchased in Stevens and Lincoln counties, and on the Spokane Tribe Reservation. While the nearby Kalispel Tribe Reservation previously allowed the sale of fireworks, it has joined the Colville Tribe in banning them, according to a tribal employee.
Though she couldn’t specify when the change was made, a copy of the tribal code from 2015 included provisions for the sale of fireworks. The Colville Tribe banned fireworks in 2016.
Whitman County allows the sale and discharge of fireworks during limited times through July 5.
Spokane city officials say the prohibition, which has been in place for nearly 25 years, has proved effective at reducing fire risks. Phillips, the assistant fire marshal, said her department uses a special code to mark calls involving fireworks, so that data can be collected more easily.
In an average year, the city tallies just five fireworks-caused fires between June 28 and July 6. Before the ordinance was enacted in 1993, the 10-year average was 104 fireworks-caused fires.
Members of the fire department will be patrolling in four pairs, confiscating fireworks, issuing warnings and writing tickets when necessary, Phillips said. Last year, there were only two pairs on patrol; they issued at least six citations.
In Washington in 2016, fireworks caused no deaths but at least 242 injuries, mostly among men ages 36 and older, according to the state fire marshal’s office. Fireworks also were a factor in 85 fires and caused $265,000 in property damage.
A city news release noted that the sound of fireworks can be unsettling to veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder. And in past years, fireworks have been blamed for scaring dozens of pets out of their homes, creating extra work for animal protection officers.
Phillips said she encourages people to enjoy the fireworks display in Riverfront Park, rather than shoot off their own.
“It’s free,” she said.
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