Tomorrow, personal fireworks go on sale in unincorporated King County – with at least one stand just yards over the line from West Seattle. Even there, though sales start Friday, use is only legal on the 4th of July, but the laws are widely ignored on both sides of the line, with countless scenes resulting like the photo above. In the city, at some point before the holiday, there’s usually a message such as this one, dissuading people from reporting fireworks unless a “life-threatening emergency” is involved. And every year, that’s led to discussions like this. Will this year be any different? We were cc’d on a West Seattle resident’s plaintive email to City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, which read in part:
Why will the city not enforce the laws against the illegal use of fireworks? West Seattle can sound like a war zone for the first couple of weeks in July and it makes the district and our city a dangerous place to live. Pets run away, people are traumatized and the atmosphere of lawlessness continues. Why are law-abiding citizens not being protected from those that are breaking the law?
In reply (on which we also were cc’d), Herbold staffer Newell Aldrich wrote:
Last year she wrote the Mayor about this, and included a copy of the letter in her newsletter, as well as background on the information she received on her inquiries to SPD in 2017. … She sent a similar letter to the Mayor [recently]; I’ve attached a copy.
Here it is:
We then asked the mayor’s office if she was planning to say anything about fireworks enforcement as requested by the councilmember. Spokesperson Kamaria Hightower replied:
Mayor Durkan and Chief Scoggins hosted a presser [last] week on protecting communities from wildfire smoke and Chief spoke on fireworks and unintentional fires too. Mayor Durkan takes public safety very seriously and is in full agreement with his statements.
She included the YouTube link for that media briefing. We watched the entire 22 minutes. The only mention of fireworks was made by the fire chief about 1:50 in, reminding people that they’re illegal.