KING COUNTY, WA — Many King County communities will see new restrictions for the July 4 holiday, more than a year after lawmakers approved a broader ban on consumer fireworks. While most cities have had local bans in place for years, the legislation approved last April extends prohibitions on the sale and personal use of fireworks to unincorporated areas.
State law requires such restrictions to have a one-year waiting period before enforcement, and that time has now passed. So, King County leaders are spending the next two weeks spreading the word to residents, including a new system for neighbors to report violators. King County Executive Dow Constantine joined local leaders in Skyway on Tuesday to discuss the latest summer safety regulations.
“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,” Constantine said. “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.”
County officials pointed to several wildfires sparked by fireworks in rural and unincorporated communities in recent years, including a deadly 2019 house fire in White Center, which is included under the new ban. Other areas subject to the new restrictions include Skyway, Vashon Island, Snoqualmie Valley, Enumclaw Plateau and Greater Maple Valley.
Consumer fireworks are banned in the vast majority of King County cities, including Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, Redmond, Kirkland and Issaquah. A handful of cities allow fireworks to be discharged during a limited window: Mercer Island, Enumclaw, Auburn, Snoqualmie and Normandy Park.
“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,” said King County Councilmember Joe McDermott. “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 has also implemented a new reporting system for violators, which can be accessed online or by calling 206-848-0800. Since this is the first year for the ban, officials said their focus will be educational, and those caught breaking the rules will receive a formal warning. The county’s Department of Local Services is finalizing a plan for citations, which will begin in 2023.
As an alternative, more professional fireworks displays are returning this year for the first time since the pandemic began, including Seattle’s Seafair Fourth and Renton’s 4th of July celebration.
Source: Bellevue Patch