FOLLOWUP: Fireworks ban for unincorporated King County to be officially proposed Thursday by Councilmember Joe McDermott

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

After years of clamor for a fireworks ban in unincorporated King County – including White Center, just south of West Seattle – a deadly fire has finally ignited action.

As promised, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott – whose district includes West Seattle, White Center, and Vashon Island – is about to introduce legislation that would ban fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the county. See a summary below (or here in PDF):

See the full text of the legislation below (or here in PDF):

We talked this afternoon with Councilmember McDermott, who will officially get it into the system tomorrow.

McDermott notes that 25 jurisdictions within King County – including Seattle and Burien, which bookend White Center – already ban fireworks. And in addition to the deadly fire in North Highline, he’s heard from constituents with other concerns, including wildfire worries on Vashon Island.

Yes, he’s heard the concerns raised before – what does this really do if there’s no extra enforcement? “It sets a new norm,” McDermott contends, and use will be reduced. What about the organizations that have raised money through fireworks sales? They’re going to have to find a new, not potentially deadly way to raise money. McDermott says the fundraising-related concerns were a factor in a related bill that has died for the year in the State Legislature, 34th District Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon‘s proposal to change state law so that fireworks bans could take effect faster. The stalling of that bill means that if McDermott’s proposal passes, it wouldn’t take effect until next year, so fireworks would still be legal in unincorporated King County this summer.

What are the chances it will pass? McDermott says he can count on support from at least a couple council colleagues, but he’s not taking anything/anyone for granted. If you have a strong opinion on the proposal, contact all the county councilmembers (here’s how). There also will be a committee hearing on the proposal, in the Local Services Committee chaired by Councilmember Reagan Dunn (no date for that yet).

P.S. Professional fireworks displays would still be allowed in unincorporated King County – as they are in the cities with fireworks bans – by permit.

31 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Fireworks ban for unincorporated King County to be officially proposed Thursday by Councilmember Joe McDermott"

  • AMD February 26, 2020 (8:34 pm)

    Finally!  I REALLY hope this passes.  *fingers crossed*

  • K. Davis February 26, 2020 (9:53 pm)


  • Emy February 27, 2020 (3:50 am)

    Fireworks for the city, not for the peasants. Sounds like politicians with armed security telling us to get rid of our firearms.

    • AMD February 27, 2020 (7:28 am)

      I’m confused by your comment.  Are you saying White Center is a city?  Or are you thinking fireworks are legal in Burien or Seattle?  The story clearly explains they’re already illegal in most of the county.  There are very real safety reasons why fireworks are banned in dense urban environments (which White Center is).  

  • KC February 27, 2020 (5:52 am)

    Laws with out enforcement amounts to lip service. Yak, Yak, Yak

    • KBear February 27, 2020 (8:32 am)

      That’s true. Fireworks are already illegal where the above photo was taken.

  • Graciano February 27, 2020 (6:46 am)

    I don’t mind the fireworks on the 4th of July. The ones after the Seahawks score, thumbs down. Guess that is from me not a ball sports fan.

    • West Seattle Hipster February 27, 2020 (11:34 am)

      What exactly is “ ball sports”?  Are you not a fan of athletic competition that involves the use of a ball?Just curious because I have never heard that term before.

      • waikikigirl February 27, 2020 (4:50 pm)

        @WS Hipster…Ball sports: football, baseball, soccer, tennis…ping pong (LOL)  I assume tho that Graciano meant the Seahawks more than the others. 

    • Also John February 27, 2020 (2:01 pm)

      I totally agree with you.  Whenever the Seahawks score there is someone in my neighborhood that “illegally” sets off a huge firework.  It sounds like a 1/4 stick of dynamite…..and yes I know that sound.I wish the police would break their door down and haul them off to court.  

  • Lisa A Jasper February 27, 2020 (7:00 am)

    Thank  you Joe McDermott. Finally. Let’s hope this passes, for all the animals and humans who are utterly traumatized throughout the day and night of the 4th of July. Then we will need police on overtime that day doing patrol to make sure the law is being upheld. I really hope this passes. We can all enjoy the official fireworks Seattle lets off. The ones that blast off, even during the day, in the White Center neighborhood are mostly the very loud bangs, that have my cats shaking in the back of the closet or under the bed. I cannot understand why people let off fireworks in broad daylight, all day on the 4th. I really hope this goes through. 

    • Anne February 27, 2020 (8:19 am)

      This law is unenforceable-even working overtime. 

      • KBear February 27, 2020 (9:01 am)

        It is not “unenforceable”. Just because it would be impossible to catch all the violators doesn’t mean they shouldn’t bother with any of them. Are speed limits “unenforceable”?

        • Gene February 27, 2020 (12:08 pm)

          Oh please-totally different.

          • KM February 27, 2020 (12:51 pm)

            Yes, Gene. Speed limits and fireworks ARE different, but K Bear’s point absolutely stands.

      • K. Davis February 27, 2020 (9:15 am)

        Agreed.  A boon for the tribes … we’ll just go there to get ours and will continue to set off on the night of the 4th.  

        • nonni February 28, 2020 (6:14 pm)

          Good. I’ll bring my dogs over so they can crap on your bed, instead of mine.

  • Nick February 27, 2020 (7:16 am)

    Do not understand why a few bad eggs means you have to kill something many people love. Keep 4th of july and new years weeks on the table before you out right ban it. 

    • KM February 27, 2020 (8:07 am)


    • AMD February 27, 2020 (9:04 am)

      Firing them off most of the year is already banned.  Even on the holiday, there are only specific hours you’re supposed to set them off.  The place where this will have a big impact is sales.  There won’t be markets set up outside of Safeway for people to stock up and blow them up for weeks on end.  The inconvenience WILL reduce usage, even in no additional enforcement is added.  If all the people who are unwilling to take transit due to the inconvenience of transferring buses or leaving home 10 minutes early is any indication, requiring people to drive 30 minutes away to buy fireworks should at least halve the amount in use.

  • Mj February 27, 2020 (10:17 am)

    White Center is unincorporated County where fireworks can be purchased, personally I think it’s a waste of money. Banning fireworks in the County would reduce the readily available supply.

    Regarding enforcement – a wonderful revenue enhancement measure. Anyone who has money to purchase fireworks has money to pay the fine!

  • KT February 27, 2020 (10:52 am)

    …”Yes, he’s heard the concerns raised before – what does this really do if there’s no extra enforcement? “It sets a new norm”…  Really?  Fireworks are banned in Seattle and it sounds like a war zone around here on July 4th.  How has it being banned reduced illegal usage?  It’s less than it would be without the ban?  Hard to believe that!  This proposal doesn’t effect me so I don’t have a stake in its future.  But let’s stop kidding ourselves.  

    • KM February 27, 2020 (12:07 pm)

      When it becomes harder to purchase (i.e. not driving 2 miles, but 45 minutes to the Muckleshoot to purchase), it will help. Not completely stop amateur shows, but availability and convenience matter.

  • Jissy February 27, 2020 (11:32 am)

    I own a commercial building in White Center and 1000% support this.  We have had 2 fireworks related fires in the last several years in the hedge/bushes,  due to people setting off fireworks in the neighboring parking lot (thankfully the wind wasn’t blowing)…. disheartened when I called 911 and was told, “please hold”.  Ummmm, yeah, NO!Since the last incident we have had to block off our parking lot and hire security due to the risk.  It’s so unnecessary and dangerous.  

  • Debbie February 27, 2020 (11:59 am)

    I hope it doesn’t pass !!! Leave Vashon alone !!!

  • coffeedude February 27, 2020 (12:03 pm)

    As a pet owner and one who lives in the White Center area, I am HAPPY for this said ban.  I don’t care how much money it generates, the fact is that the fireworks cause unnecessary harm to pets, and cause extensive amount of trash that gets into the water ways, and wildlife eats the remnants which I am sure is not healthy for these animals.  PLEASE MAKE THEM ILLEGAL.

  • Karen February 27, 2020 (2:17 pm)

    Yeah – We are tired of living in a war zone every 4th of July!!!  It’s bad for pets and for people with PTSD or with dementia

    Also, people would set off their fireworks on our street and leave all their trash for us to cleanup.

    Kudos to Joe!

  • flimflam February 27, 2020 (5:13 pm)

    like others have posted – it is useless to make any news laws if they won’t be enforced. i’m not a fan of the booms at all, but unless enforced, it is meaningless – like many laws in the city, frankly.

  • Lori February 27, 2020 (5:29 pm)

    Yes!! It wouldn’t take much out here in Duvall on a hot dry summer to ignite a huge forest fire and burn down our homes and kill our animals and wildlife.

  • Mark Ufkes February 27, 2020 (6:35 pm)

    Yeah!  We live in White Center and twice, children (not ours) started fires on the dead end below us using fireworks.   Both fires required several fire trucks to put out the fires as the 30 foot high flames threatened our house.   The resulting damage to our siding and landscaping was over $10,000, not to mention the terror and smoke. Also, last June, kids and fireworks started a fire in White Center that killed an older gentleman next door.     I love fireworks, but irresponsible  parents, unmonitored children, and general stupidity have convinced me that private fireworks in urban areas need to be banned.   And for all you Yak Yaks who claim it won’t be enforced; it took a couple of years but Buriens ban has dramatically reduced fireworks in their neighborhood to the south.  The proposed ban will pass.  Yeah again.   Mark Ufkes 

  • Never again February 28, 2020 (8:27 pm)

    You know as a Vietnam vet I don’t mind organized and choreographed fireworks show, but street fireworks confuse me because they’re sooo lame. There’s really nothing to them except noise and lets take this one step further, do any of you who entertaining yourself with this type of lame entertainment think you’re in any way projecting PATRIOTISM?, all you seem to care about is some sort of phony Machoism, I know the sound of incoming rounds and trust me I stayed far from them. So look, all of you weekend warriors, you like bombs? Noise? POWER? Join the military and go into a Hot Zone, Ill guarantee you you will never want to hear that noise ever again. 

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