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‘Don’t Blow It, Cut The Fuse’: For the first time, the use and/or sale of consumer fireworks is prohibited in unincorporated King County

Summary

With fireworks now banned in unincorporated King County, Local Services is focusing on educating residents about the new rules, starting with a community summer safety event in Skyway.

Story

As the July 4th holiday approaches, Local Services reminds residents that the use and sale of consumer fireworks are not allowed in unincorporated King County.

To put it another way, #DontBlowIt: Residents must #CutTheFuse on fireworks in unincorporated areas such as Skyway, White Center, Snoqualmie Valley, Greater Maple Valley, Enumclaw Plateau and Vashon Island.

This is the first year that fireworks have been banned in unincorporated King County. For some, the news rules are a big change to their July 4th traditions. Unincorporated areas won’t see fireworks stands. Residents aren’t allowed to light fireworks in their cul-de-sacs or back yards.

Instead, folks are encouraged to find ways to celebrate the Fourth of July that don’t endanger residents, pets or property.

“We acknowledge and respect that there is a longstanding tradition of individuals and families celebrating our nation’s independence with fireworks - that's true for our family too,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “But in a county of 2.3 million people, with many of our cities already having prohibited fireworks, doing the same in unincorporated King County is a necessary step to ensure safety and prevent tragedies.”

 

First year of fireworks ban

In 2021, Executive Constantine signed the ban into law prohibiting the use and sale of consumer fireworks, and state law required a year before the ban took effect.

County leaders had discussed a consumer fireworks ban in unincorporated areas for years. There have been several wildfires in rural parts of the county during recent dry summers, and several fireworks-related injuries and other incidents in urban areas—including a 2019 house fire in White Center in which a person died.

The new rules bring the unincorporated areas in line with most neighboring King County cities and jurisdictions with established fireworks bans on their books.

 

Violators of the fireworks ban

With this year being the first that fireworks aren’t permitted, King County is emphasizing community education about the new rules and is deferring issuing citations for a year.

However, that doesn’t mean folks will be able to light fireworks without repercussion.

Starting June 14, residents will be able to report violators to the King County Permitting Division:

 

 

King County will issue a warning to violators and include them in our records. If the behavior continues, these violators will likely be the first to eventually receive citations.

 

Local Services is finalizing the details of how violators will be cited beginning in 2023.

 

So if fireworks aren’t allowed, how should residents celebrate the July 4th holiday?

The good news is there are plenty of ways to celebrate the Fourth of July safely and without fireworks. Below is a sampling of ideas, courtesy of the King County Fire Chiefs Association:

  • Light up the night with glowsticks or glow-in-the-dark bubbles
  • Have an outdoor movie night
  • Bake a cake for America’s birthday
  • Make a statement with noise makers
  • Have fun with red, white and blue with Silly String
  • Decorate your porch or yard
  • Find fun craft and coloring activities for kids
  • Dress up your pets!

And if residents still want to enjoy fireworks without directly using them, consider attending a public display. Many of the annual fireworks displays were canceled last year due to the pandemic but several of those are back on this year (please follow mask and social distancing recommendations).

 

QUOTES

  • King County Executive Dow Constantine: “We acknowledge and respect that there is a longstanding tradition of individuals and families celebrating our nation’s independence with fireworks - that's true for our family too. But in a county of 2.3 million people, with many of our cities already having prohibited fireworks, doing the same in unincorporated King County is a necessary step to ensure safety and prevent tragedies. This brings unincorporated King County in line with neighboring jurisdictions, and we all agree that there are much safer ways, including licensed, professional fireworks displays, to celebrate the July 4th holiday.”

 

  • King County Councilmember Joe McDermott: “It’s up to us, as neighbors and community members, to ensure no children go to the hospital, no houses are burned, and no pets are lost in the name of celebration. We can have fun and keep each other safe by keeping fireworks out of our neighborhoods and in the hands of professionals who can put on a fantastic and inspiring show for everyone to enjoy.”

     

  • King County Councilmember Sarah Perry: “As we celebrate our July 4th holiday weekend together, we are very aware of the especially precarious position our district is in for fires with Federal, Tribal, State, County, City and private forests right in our backyard. It is critical that we prioritize the safety of everyone in our communities by ensuring safe, protected firework locations. I invite everyone to join me in a special 4th of July with friends and family this year, knowing that we are doing all we can to mitigate fires, preserve our natural resources and protect our loved ones.”

     

  • Local Services Director John Taylor: “The safety of our communities in unincorporated King County is a top priority. Unfortunately, we saw too many times how the use of fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday put our communities at risk, with many of our most vulnerable populations getting injured or even killed. While not ideal for some, many in our community urged us to take this step.”

 

  • King County Fire Marshal Chris Ricketts: “We understand that this fireworks ban might represent a basic change in the July 4th celebration activities for some people. We’re taking extra efforts this year to educate folks about these changes, and we’re stressing that fireworks can be dangerous, traumatic and are absolutely not allowed in unincorporated King County.”

 

LINKS

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Brent Champaco, Local Services, 206-477-9094,
brent.champaco@kingcounty.gov