Proposed fireworks ban back in play for White Center and rest of unincorporated King County

(File photo, fireworks stand in White Center)

Though fireworks are illegal in Seattle, Burien, and Tukwila, some are legal for the area between them – unincorporated North Highline, including White Center, just south of West Seattle. Early last year, a ban proposal was launched in the King County Council – and then the pandemic hit, shelving all but emergency actions for months. Now a proposed ban is back in consideration, starting with a discussion in the council’s Committee of the Whole last week. The proposal is sponsored by our area’s County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who also represents unincorporated areas including North Highline and Vashon Island. He cites the July 2019 North Highline fire that killed a 70-year-old man as major motivation. You can read the proposal here; watch the discussion in the meeting video here. The proposal is expected to return to the committee for action, and then one month’s notice is required before it would go to a vote in the full County Council.

43 Replies to "Proposed fireworks ban back in play for White Center and rest of unincorporated King County"

  • CarDriver February 20, 2021 (8:51 pm)

    Meaningless waste of time unless they actually are willing and able to enforce it.

  • Brim February 20, 2021 (10:00 pm)

    Bans are only as good as enforcement (which is admittedly difficult if not impossible to pull off). I’d be ok with fireworks only being in the hands of certified users like contracted professional pyrotechnicians and whatnot. There’s no need for Cletus next door to have access to them.

    • Cletus February 21, 2021 (3:58 pm)

      @BRIM – There’s no need to get personal. It was an honest mistake in 2019 when the roman candle I was holding in my teeth while blindfolded shot into your open window. We’re all good.

  • Karen February 20, 2021 (10:06 pm)

    I don’t know why they bother. No one enforces existing fireworks ban in Seattle.

  • WSB February 20, 2021 (10:24 pm)

    Enforcement isn’t necessarily the objective here. Reducing the convenience/availability would be a major effect of the ban. Right now, just looking at this area, there are several fireworks stands every summer in White Center – usually at least one just steps outside the city limits. Not only do “legal” users from North Highline buy there, so do many West Seattleites. If there are no nearby stands, those wishing to buy fireworks will have to travel a much longer distance to buy from tribal stands.

    • Buddy February 21, 2021 (8:24 am)

      I’m my opinion people who want to light off fireworks will even travel to any tribal stands or even another state.  I have had neighbors who have started grass fires due to their fireworks and yet within minutes they continue to light off fireworks.  It’s awful where I live since people continue to light off fireworks during the year on random days.   I am completely in favor of fireworks being banned in white center. I know of someone who when in his early 20’s was lighting off fireworks and one went flying into his eye 👁 and he almost went blind in that eye.

    • JES February 21, 2021 (10:01 am)

      Which they will do.

      • Arash R Sarraf February 21, 2021 (2:25 pm)

        I know of someone that lit a firework and caused no harm to anyone. He had a fantastic 4th of July.

        • Ms. Sparkles February 22, 2021 (10:22 am)

          Oh he still caused harm, to the neighborhood dogs & people who hate the cacophony of pointless explosions, he was just too self-absorbed to be aware of the harm he did.

  • Mj February 20, 2021 (10:41 pm)

    The WSB statement is correct, but it’s a double edged sword.  People wanting fireworks would likely replace the so called safer variety with more potent stuff. 

    It’s amazing that so many people have money to literally burn on this.  Having some law enforcement would be nice, heck just think of the revenue the City could make.

  • Steve February 20, 2021 (11:33 pm)

    Half the duds those stands sell ban themselves.

  • Anna February 21, 2021 (12:10 am)

    My 13  year old dog hopes that something comes of this. 4th of July is on Sunday this year, and Monday is when it is observed, so it is going to be an awful weekend. I just don’t understand why it has to be all night long.

  • anonyme February 21, 2021 (6:40 am)

    Ban them statewide and publicly announce that the law will be enforced.  I know that’s a foreign concept for Seattle, but it’s time things changed around here – dramatically.   The minimum fine is currently $500 for a first violation.  There should be a no tolerance policy.  I’m guessing once the word gets out that fines are actually happening – even a few of them – the problem would diminish considerably.

  • AHneighbor February 21, 2021 (7:58 am)

    Thank you for sharing this news. I support a ban 100%. Last year we had a neighbor set up some sort of automated display – it was on a pallet and set to light off a large firework every minute or so for several hours (until maybe 2am). Aside from that, the fact that the fireworks start a week before the actual holiday and last for a week afterward is totally unacceptable. 

  • aa February 21, 2021 (8:15 am)

    As I go about my days driving in many areas of King County seeing rows of tents, piles of garbage, broken down trailers that are homes to people living on the street, a massive problem that never seems to change.  I think, when our city opens back up, who will want to come here to visit?  It is a sad state of affairs that Seattle is so broken down. Talking about banning fireworks when you know that police will never enforce the laws because they are already overloaded with a million other laws they are supposed to be enforcing seems like a monumental waste of time.  

  • M February 21, 2021 (8:33 am)

    I realize this will probably be an unpopular opinion to express out loud (though many readers may feel the same), but I personally love seeing/lighting small little fireworks that stay on the ground.  The kids love it, it brings so many of the neighbors together (in normal times), and we do it for like half an hour at 7pm.  Maybe we could just keep some of the little ones legal?  Have a little joy?  And no, I don’t hate animals or war vets.  

  • Jeremy Burris February 21, 2021 (9:31 am)

    Good luck with that. Have you ever been in white center during the 4th? It’s like war zone. I’ve never heard so many fireworks going off. They don’t have enough police.

  • Terremoto February 21, 2021 (10:15 am)

    This photo is from last  year’s 4th at N. Shorewood Park – gives an idea of the amount set off. For several years, families would shoot off fireworks in that street, perhaps in deference to the sign which states, “No Fireworks in Park.” Of course, children were lighting things. Later, groups of youths continue overnight at the Park. I know not to confront anyone or call, as there is no enforcement.  A ban is a good first step.

  • White Center Neighbor February 21, 2021 (11:35 am)

    We love the fireworks on the 4th! We hate the super loud M-80s, etc going off all week. One night is awesome. We buy good fireworks and set them off in front of the house for an hour, some neighbors come out to enjoy the show, and then we clean it up.  Respectfulness is the key, and sadly hard to come by these days. 

  • Borek Mustafa February 21, 2021 (11:37 am)

    The fireworks have become a civil emergency in July.  

  • david r February 21, 2021 (11:47 am)

    I have found unlit firecrackers left strewn about in elementary school playgrounds. The people who do this are irresponsible and dangerous, and so are the people who do not report this behavior. Making this CLEARLY a crime is the first step for action.

  • Arash R Sarraf February 21, 2021 (11:51 am)

    We will not comply regardless. We like our fireworks here in White Center. If your dog does not like it than you should plan a retreat for your dog somewhere quiet. It happens on the 4th of July 😉.

    • AH February 21, 2021 (2:05 pm)

      Hey bud,How’s about YOU go somewhere else on the fourth where fireworks ain’t banned or illegal, have yr fun, and not be a nuisance of disturbance to your neighbors. Works for me. 

      • Shane Coyle February 21, 2021 (6:20 pm)

        Don’t think its actually working for you tho because you sound incapable of thinking even a single fun though 

  • bolo February 21, 2021 (3:46 pm)

    Just out of curiousity:

    What do the fireworks and firecrackers signify? What is their importance? Why are they important?

    • aa February 21, 2021 (7:08 pm)

      star spangled banner maybe?  “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air..”

  • NotaCurmudeon February 21, 2021 (4:06 pm)

    Come on folks, most of the time this isn’t hurting anyone…I don’t want to sound insensitive, but fireworks are a very statistically insignificant source of fires and injuries. Firework use has been on the rise nationwide for years, and a few states have recently re-legalized them without the doom and gloom injury rates predicted. You may not like them, and the litter some people make is more than inconsiderate, but please consider the folks that don’t litter and enjoy their fireworks for a couple hours a year.https://www.americanpyro.com/assets/docs/FactsandFigures/Fireworks%20Related%20Injuries%20%28table%29%201976%20-2019.pdf

    • Reality Chick February 21, 2021 (6:03 pm)

      Come on “not” a curmudgeon (spelled correctly), you have to know that it is not a “couple hours a year.” If it were, there would not be legitimate complaints. In 2020, explosives/fireworks were set off almost nightly for weeks before and after the 4th in my neighborhood (we were here for first time in years since we could not leave due to pandemic–yes, we usually leave).   Workers,  people with PTSD, pets, wildlife where we all live are all affected.  How about this year, you all go somewhere and blow stuff up. Then clean up the mess.

      • NotaCurmudgeon February 21, 2021 (6:58 pm)

        Ok, I made a typo sorry! This was not the case in my neighborhood,  so sorry to hear that it’s a “warzone” in yours. I actually don’t light fireworks in my neighborhood, I do it elsewhere because I lack space, and I follow the law.  But I’m really not bothered by it as long as people are being safe and not dicks about it. I also have a combat veteran for a friend that does it with me every year. PTSD is a tricky subject, but it seems to often be used as a catch-all for NIMBY behavior. Fines for outside the allotted time to light? Sure why not, but they probably already exist. I’d be ok with enforcement of that.  Should we be concerned that there might be somebody, somewhere, that might be offended and not do it? The 4th comes at the same time every year. It’s no surprise. Why ruin everyone else’s fun? 

        • NotaCurmudgeon February 21, 2021 (7:07 pm)

          And by catch-all, I meant something people toss out there to shut down further discussion. PTSD is real and an issue, I just don’t think that a blanket ban is an appropriate response.

  • KT February 21, 2021 (4:16 pm)

    I am so glad this finally got introduced.  Tired of living in a 7 day war zone every 4th of July.

  • Bob February 21, 2021 (4:53 pm)

    Sure. Ban fireworks. Legalize heroin and cocaine. Makes perfect sense. 

  • Mark L Ufkes February 22, 2021 (7:30 am)

    White Center resident here; Ban fireworks here!  Yeah!Twice in our 21 years living here, kids (not mine) have started fires on the hillside below our home using fireworks without an adult present, and both times, the fire department was needed to save our home.  Fireworks are lots of fun, I get it.  But we have too many irresponsible people who are either stupid or not monitoring their children.  

  • anonyme February 22, 2021 (8:33 am)

    Illegal fireworks are for the overaged and underendowed.

  • solution oriented February 22, 2021 (9:28 am)

    1. Fireworks manufacturing restrictions. How is it the really loud and dangerous ones are even available?

    2. Time of day restrictions for fireworks, and then active patrolling and enforcement, with hefty fines.

    3. How about a year on and off with allowing fireworks? Give animals and fellow citizens who are bothered by fireworks a break, and give those who really enjoy fireworks their fun, every other year. A compromise might help everyone chill.

    4. I would like to see public service announcements every year leading up to the holiday, which shares how fireworks negatively impact some neighbors, animals, and the environment. Many people are just truly unaware of these impacts.

  • Mark T February 22, 2021 (11:12 am)

    65 years celebrating our nation’s freedoms and I have managed to do that without losing any body parts or burning anything down. I am too old for that now, but I still enjoy our neighborhood BBQ and watching the kids with their Twizzlers, Smokey snakes and black cats and bottle rockets. The next day neighborhood cleanup is an opportunity for teaching the kids to be responsible for their own mess. My dog does not like it anymore more than some of you, so she spends her time indoors with the radio or TV cranked up and some treats in her Bowl. Maybe some of you should you do the same? I agree with those who have expressed much greater concern over removing the tent cities from our neighborhoods. I do not enjoy the piles of human waste and the variety of Street crime and the dangerous needles and other evidence of drug crime laying about  public parks and city sidewalks. These folks need help or discipline and our attention far more than this question of fireworks.

  • ISawThisComing February 24, 2021 (9:36 am)

    They keep banning FW shows put on by municipalities.  Its the few who speak out rather than the majority.  Tradition is hard to break when it comes to setting off fireworks.  The bans as many of you said cant be enforced.  And Lisa Herbold would just have anyone caught doing it released from the crime anyway.  Assuming its a misdemeanor. Less government in this case.  

    • WSB February 24, 2021 (9:40 am)

      This proposal specifically allows displays via permits, such as those put on by organizations (government or otherwise). Also, Lisa Herbold has absolutely nothing to do with it, as this is a proposal for the unincorporated areas outside cities – and even if it WERE in Seattle, the proposal she briefly floated (which as we and others have reported in the past week hasn’t resulted in legislation and isn’t expected to) did not involve expanding defenses for this type of violation – TR

  • American February 24, 2021 (7:01 pm)

    Fireworks should never be illegal anywhere, and we should be able to use them year round like most of the East Coast.   Restrictions are Anti-American we need less laws not more. 

    • bolo February 28, 2021 (1:51 pm)

      My second question:

      Where are fourth of july fireworks made?

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