City councilmembers in Airway Heights passed an ordinance Friday allowing the local fire chief to suspend the discharge of fireworks during extreme fire danger, but it won’t go into effect until next year.
The new rule can’t take effect until July 2022, leaving Airway Heights as one of the last places in Spokane County where people can set off fireworks on private property, according to Mayor Sonny Weathers.
“There’s nothing more to do than what we’re attempting to do right now,” Weathers said during the virtual emergency city council meeting.
The decision comes after several planned firework shows were postponed because of growing fire risk in the Spokane area.
Fire officials banned all fireworks in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Millwood and Cheney, as well as the unincorporated parts of Spokane County. The City of Spokane postponed several of its shows Thursday, citing unprecedented heat and drought conditions that the National Weather Service predicted would only get worse.
Airway Heights Fire Chief Mitch Metzger said with the low moisture fuels, drought conditions and excessive heat, this year will put the city to the test.
Councilmembers during the meeting asked whether they had any power to enact a temporary ban on fireworks, given this year’s fire danger. The answer was no – Airway Heights did not have any way to stop or temporarily ban fireworks this year.
“We unfortunately do not have any language for that right now,” Weathers said.
Airway Heights Police Chief Brad Richmond said law enforcement would look to educate people who illegally set off fireworks by giving them a warning to move to private property.
“We’re most likely not going to take enforcement action unless we have to,” he said.
The ordinance will allow a temporary ban to be placed at the discretion of the fire chief when it takes effect.
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