(The Center Square) – With the Fourth of July weeks away, all sections of King County, including unincorporated parts of the county are now prohibited from the sale and use of consumer fireworks.
In a press conference outside of King County Fire District 20 in Skyway, King County officials cited public safety and environmental concerns as reasons to ban the use of fireworks.
“I think this is an important step toward public safety in unincorporated areas,” King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay said at the press conference.
Zahilay added that he was originally skeptical of the rule when it was passed last year due to how it will be enforced. He had concerns over policing in certain communities, how fines would affect low-income neighborhoods, and how nonprofits that rely on firework sales would be hurt.
“Then I spoke to [King County Fire District 20 Fire Chief Eric Hicks], who told me that our fire departments prepare for the Fourth of July as if they were preparing for an extreme natural disaster,” Zahilay said. “Peoples’ homes burn down, people blow off their limbs, there are fatalities and so this is a clear example of competing public interest.”
Last year, King County Executive Dow Constantine signed the ban into law, but the state required a year to pass before the fireworks ban could take effect. King County Department of Local Services Director John Taylor said that the county will not issue citations, but instead issue warning letters in hopes of educating people about the new law.
Fire Chief Hicks said that the Fourth of July is historically the busiest day of the year for fire departments throughout King County. There is also a “substantial increase” in medical calls related to fireworks, according to Hicks.
“Every year during the summer months we experience hotter, dryer conditions,” Hicks said. “Due to injuries, property loss and the dangers they impose, it was important to put this fireworks ban in play.”
There will still be public displays of fireworks that will go one throughout King County on Independence Day. The county also suggested alternatives to fireworks: like glow sticks.
“We understand that this fireworks ban might represent a basic change in the [Fourth of July] celebration activities for some people . . . and we’re stressing that fireworks can be dangerous, traumatic and are absolutely not allowed in unincorporated King County,” King County Fire Marshall Chris Ricketts said in a statement.
The unincorporated parts of King County now subject to the fireworks ban include: Skyway, White Center, Snoqualmie Valley, Greater Maple Valley, Enumclaw Plateau and Vashon Island.