2:56 PM: As we were discussing here just yesterday, while fireworks are illegal within the Seattle city limits, they’re legal on the other side of the line, in unincorporated King County, and that’s unquestionably where some if not most of the fireworks illegally used here are bought. So you might be interested to know that community leaders from the unincorporated areas of North Highline and West Hill have just launched a petition drive asking county leaders for an emergency fireworks ban – the petition is on this Change.org page. The petition is addressed to the County Executive and County Fire Marshal. We’ll be checking with their offices, as well as with County Councilmember Joe McDermott, to see if this is something they are considering. Right now, fireworks sales in the unincorporated area are scheduled to start at noon on Sunday.
3:43 PM: We’ve just spoken with Jim Chan in the King County Permits and Environmental Review department, which oversees the Fire Marshal’s Office. He says the same thing that commenter Karen was told by the County Executive’s Office – that the county has no authority for an emergency ban; any ban couldn’t take effect for a year. Chan says a few Washington counties’ laws enable such a ban – Douglas and San Juan Counties, he mentioned – but for King County, that sort of authority has just never come up. We asked if the state would have authority, then, to take an action that could enable an immediate emergency local ban, and he said yes. So we’ll be checking next with the state Fire Marshal’s Office. Meantime, we were forwarded a news release that the county Fire Marshal’s Office had been planning to issue, saying only this:
King County fire agencies are urging citizens to attend one of the many professional public fireworks displays during the Fourth of July weekend. Prolonged dry weather and below average spring rainfall have cured grass and vegetation growth, creating high fire danger nearly six weeks earlier than normal. Last year in King County fire agencies responded to nearly 200 fire calls with 82 of them related to fireworks, as reported in the 2014 Washington State Fire Marshal report.
While it is not advisable to light fireworks, follow the three B’s – Be Prepared, Be Safe, and Be Responsible. Retail fireworks go on sale June 28 through July 4 and in those communities that allow fireworks, discharge is limited to July 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. only.