FIREWORKS: King County ban to be proposed soon; related state legislation progressing

(Reader photo: Solstice Park fireworks debris, July 2018)

Though fireworks are illegal in Seattle, they’re rampant, particularly on the Fourth of July.

They’re particularly easy to get here, since West Seattle is next door to unincorporated King County, where they’re legal on the Fourth and sold for almost a week leading uo to the holiday.

Many on both sides of the line have long called for the county to join its biggest cities in banning fireworks too. The calls intensified after a deadly fire last year. King County Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott, whose district includes West Seattle and White Center, says he supports a ban. Today he told WSB that he’s been working on the ban proposal with both the county permitting division and King County Executive Dow Constantine, and that he expects Constantine to send the proposal to the council next week.

Even if a ban passed quickly, though, state law requires a year before it could take effect, so there would be at least one more year of legal fireworks. When this all came up for discussion last September at a North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting in White Center, 34th District Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon talked about legislation to change that.

Now, he’s introduced it – HB 2307, “to allow local governments to ban fireworks immediately” – and tells WSB it’s progressing in the House. Our area’s senior state Representative, Eileen Cody, is a co-sponsor. The Local Government Committee took action to advance it last Friday, two days after a hearing.

To comment on that bill, you can go here. As for the proposed county ban, we’ll publish a followup when it’s introduced.

35 Replies to "FIREWORKS: King County ban to be proposed soon; related state legislation progressing"

  • Mj January 27, 2020 (9:40 pm)

    Banning is one thing, enforcement is another.  

    • AMD January 28, 2020 (6:19 am)

      If people had to drive an hour to get their fireworks instead of picking them up at Safeway, that would result in a huge reduction in fireworks just by virtue of inconvenience.  I want the police patrolling for DUIs on the fourth.  Hiring hundreds more police to babysit neighbors every holiday so they can do DUI patrol and ticket people for fireworks isn’t feasible.

  • All rules equal January 27, 2020 (11:38 pm)

    Maybe if our elected officials were doing real work they could solved the homeless issues and enforce all of our laws. Novel concept. What a waste of time. We lost 3 people downtown last week because of their inability to deal with these issues.

    • Jon Wright January 28, 2020 (10:10 am)

      Illegal discharge of fireworks is an issue about which many of their constituents have complained. So they are doing “real work.” 

      • Jort January 28, 2020 (6:23 pm)

        False, Jon: we’re not allowed to do more than one thing at a time. It may seem frustrating, but thems the breaks. Shoot.

  • Nick January 28, 2020 (2:42 am)

    I have no problem with people lighting fireworks 2 days a year.

    • Mabuhay January 28, 2020 (7:35 am)

      What part of West Seattle do you live in? Two days a year–as if…

      • KM January 28, 2020 (8:33 am)

        A neighborhood without obnoxious Seahawks fans? (sounds great!)

    • Alki resident January 28, 2020 (10:09 am)

      Let’s see…. 4th of July, New Years Eve and Seahawks , that’s more than two days. 

      • sam-c January 28, 2020 (12:08 pm)

        And this past Saturday, a giant mortar at 10:30 pm.  Since it woke me up, and I couldn’t go back to sleep, I watched the news to try and figure out which sport event it was this time. Never did figure it out.  Hockey ? 

        • Stuarts January 28, 2020 (3:16 pm)

          Saturday the 25th was the Chinese New Year.

  • DH January 28, 2020 (6:12 am)

    I’m really looking forward to this change. While I don’t expect enforcement to improve it will decrease easy availability which will hopefully decrease use. Yea!! 

  • West Seattle Hipster January 28, 2020 (7:03 am)

    Great idea in theory, but if the laws aren’t enforced it will be meaningless.

    • WSB January 28, 2020 (12:36 pm)

      In this particular situation, as somebody said upthread, the point is that usage is bound to go down because access will suddenly be a lot more difficult. Maybe if you’re a hard-core fireworks fan, you’ll just drive the 30 miles to Muckleshoot or Tulalip anyway But there are inevitably going to be some not-so-hardcore people who will just skip it if you can’t buy sparklers or smoke bombs a few yards over the line in the Roxbury Lanes parking lot any more.

  • BLT January 28, 2020 (7:21 am)

    Maybe there shouldn’t be an island of unincorporated King County surrounded by the City of Seattle?  

    • WSB January 28, 2020 (12:27 pm)

      There’s not. Seattle on the north, Burien on the south. (Where fireworks also are illegal.) Or if you’re trying to make a point about annexation … no one seems to be proceeding on that with any particular urgency right now.

  • Joan January 28, 2020 (8:58 am)

    I would love it. Too much noise, for too many hours and too many days. “Fireworks” (I should say fire crackers) are too available because of the tribes that sell them. Not to disparage tribes. But.. I hate the noise, my pets hate it, the environment hates the garbage. Years ago my next door neighbor shot off the loudest fire crackers for  HOURS and then the next day I found bits of them in my yard – pieces of cardboard and plastic. He could have caused a fire if some landed on  my roof. Well, that’s ultralocal, but I suspect it happens a lot. Big city fireworks displays- great. Private (illegal) fire crackers going all night, and day, and weekends before and after the Fourth – no.

    • Lindsey January 28, 2020 (10:43 am)

      This is my experience as well. Last year we had people, with their tiny children, out ALL NIGHT lighting off fireworks. At 3am I finally went over and talked to them, only for them to tell me that they’ve been doing it at that spot for years and why should they stop. (Lies – we’ve lived in our home for seven years and have never seen them there before.) I just want to be able to sleep without fear that my roof will start on fire. Plus, they left all their garbage on city property and then we all collectively have to pay to have it cleaned up. 

  • Ed January 28, 2020 (10:11 am)

    I hope this passes quickly, our neighbors around here shoot off the massive mortar shell ones that rock the entire house and send our dogs and baby into hysterics every time the Seahawks score (so glad the season is over). It has made us start rooting against the home team because we just want peace and quiet. We have tried asking them to stop, but every one of them has had some form of “go back to where you came from or move to China/N.K.” nonsense.

    • Paula Audette January 28, 2020 (11:04 am)

      There are many ordinances on the books regarding excessive noise or hazardous behavior.  If your neighbors are violating any of them, then they can be fined.  Document it and send it to the police.   The Seahens issue is separate from the legal discharge of fireworks on the 4th and on New Years, so don’t conflate them.  It is illegal to shoot off fireworks because of the Seahens scoring.

      • KM January 28, 2020 (1:40 pm)

        Worth noting that this is just for King County, as it’s illegal to light off fireworks on ANY day in the city of Seattle.

        • WSB January 28, 2020 (2:22 pm)

          Unincorporated King County, to be specific – the areas outside the cities, such as White Center, Skyway, etc.

  • Heather January 28, 2020 (10:53 am)

    The noise doesn’t bother me. The leftover mess of lazy, disrespectful people really bothers me.  Why cant people pick up after themselves? 

  • Ross January 28, 2020 (12:47 pm)

    Banning fireworks is ridiculous. We grew up using them for celebrating the fourth and New year’s. Getting rid of them is an awful idea. Joe and Dow need to go. 

  • West Seattle Hipster January 28, 2020 (12:48 pm)

    How about banning the tribes from selling explosives?

    • hj January 28, 2020 (1:54 pm)

      How about respecting tribal sovereignty?

      • West Seattle Hipster January 28, 2020 (4:54 pm)

        Naw.  Making pipe bombs is illegal, so why should anyone regardless of their heritage be allowed to sell high powered aerial explosives?Especially since the people that normally buy the fireworks are usually the last people that should be detonating them.

  • MB January 28, 2020 (3:42 pm)

    I would love for a ban on fireworks.  I live in unincorporated king county and its sounds like 1991 Baghdad.  I have gotten into it with my neighbors when they are blowing up huge fireworks over my house and leaving debris everywhere.  Last year they blew up one that was too big for their fiberglass tube and it blew up like an IED and shook my house windows so bad that one cracked. We’ve had several house fires in the area over the years as well.  Unfortunately there are lots of people that do this and I understand they are having fun but it’s at others expense and safety. If it was smaller fireworks and not the huge ones then I would most likely be alright with for the most part.

  • flimflam January 28, 2020 (5:55 pm)

    great news – dangerous, obnoxious, etc, etc, not to mention cruel to vets with PTSD and animals.

  • Nathan January 28, 2020 (7:39 pm)

    For starters I am one of those people that shoot off fireworks and I live in Covington which is in unincorporated king county. And I’m also Native American. So let me share some light on Native American the state itself cannot dictate what tribal land canning cannot do because technically it’s like federal land we have to follow federal law but in the columbines of Tribal land And tribal members can basically do whatever they want. So banning fireworks from being sold on tribal property it’s not gonna happen regardless of what the state does. Now back to general public. I am one of the ones that is responsible they cleaned up their mess after it’s all said and done and I spend roughly $3000 wholesale and do my own display. And another thing Fireworks can be shipped anywhere within 44 states right to your front door. 

  • P.N.W. PYROS January 28, 2020 (8:25 pm)

    I love fireworks. Like really really love fireworks. And I would light them everyday if I could afford to. I have no problems with hearing them randomly here and there away from July 4th and New Years. And I know everyone loves their Seahawks lighting fireworks when they score or win is becoming a trend. Here is the faults. More and more cities every year are banning fireworks. More and more people are complaining of fireworks outside of the holiday times. I personal think they are over reacting. But, they are calling police and anyone else they can. They claim a lot of mis information for wanting fireworks banned. And their voices are being heard. It’s time to think of the future. If people continue to light fireworks outside legal times it’s going to continue to be a bigger and bigger problem. With social media this information spreads like crazy. Fireworks in the air the sound travels a lot further then people realize. This drives people crazy that don’t appreciate fireworks at think their dogs should have more rights. And as much as I don’t agree with their thinking, I want to be able to continue lighting fireworks when they are legally allowed. I get the urge to go light some fuses all the time. And there is a local club in Washington you can join and make that happen legally. But for the future of fireworks in Washington every needs to really think of those few boom they send up for the Seahawks or whatever reason are really worth having fireworks being totally banned in Washington in the future. I know a lot of stand owners and a wholesalers and some of the biggest pyros in Washington and none of us want to see fireworks completely banned. It would put companies out of business and wreck Stand owners financially. For the sake of our future pleas think about the effect your 5 seconds of enjoyment may cause in the future. As far a tribal land goes, you are out of luck. They are on their own set of rules and are going to light fireworks when they want. There land was there first and I’m betting they were lighting fireworks all’s year long before you moved onto or close to their tribal land. You won’t fix or change that. Your best bet is to either accept it or move. Show from the Muckleshoot this last year.

  • MyDogsHateFireworks January 28, 2020 (8:47 pm)

    For 15 years I have taken all my vacations around the holidays so I can be with my dogs 24/7 as the are thundercoated and sedated to suffer through the insanity of people blowing stuff up. I do not get it. The fireworks are illegal here. These are M80s and other loud stuff. As mentioned, not just 2 days a year. Seems like alcohol may be involved – so illegal activity with perhaps not the sharpest in charge of explosives. Half the world is on fire. So let’s blow some stuff up. Oh, wait, want to help the homeless? Take the firework money – help the homeless. One neighbor had their dog killed right in front of our house – so scared by illegal fireworks ran in the street and got hit by a car. In Italy, the fireworks are silent because it scares the animals. The fireworks of today are not like yesterday. We often hear gunshots with them. Crazy. Since we live in the good part of town. My animals are terrorized by those who choose to blatantly disobey the law. If there were enough police to fine all who violate this law just on one holiday our city could pay for all necessary services for the year. Perspective is a good thing to gain.

  • K. Davis January 28, 2020 (10:16 pm)

    People need to chill.  I enjoy the fireworks and enjoy setting them off.  Yep – there are some stupid people out there who behave badly.  But most of us do it responsibly.  The hyperbole on this thread is over the top.  I’ll go get mine at the reservation and come home and set off a bunch on the 4th … and the police will leave me alone because they have more important things to do.  Seriously people …

    • GCK January 29, 2020 (12:05 pm)

        K. Davis for the Good Neighbor Award!!

    • Apotheosis January 29, 2020 (12:12 pm)

      Translation: It “doesn’t matter that insert activity I enjoy is illegal and negatively impacts lots of my neighbors because I’m a selfish (but responsible) a-hole.”Seriously people indeed …

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