Know safety, laws about fireworks

June 29, 2010

By Elizabeth DeVos

A dummy hand is missing fingers after incorrectly lighting a Silver Salute, which is equal to the effects of 100 firecrackers. By Elizabeth DeVos

The Fourth of July is about enjoying the sun, if it decides to come out from behind the clouds, picnics and the exciting sounds and vast array of colors from lighting off fireworks.

In cities where fireworks are legal, stands opened this June 21. Although fireworks are illegal within the city limits of Issaquah, many people still ignite the dangerous explosives and quickly run away in order to watch the fiery display they put off.

“We want to remind residents of Washington to be safe,” said Karen Jones, deputy state fire marshal of the state fire marshal and data analysis. “Check the laws of your community as they change.”

According to the annual fireworks report put out by the Washington State Patrol, males ages 15-21 account for most fireworks-related injuries. In 2009, 200 firework related injuries were reported.

Hand and eye injuries are reported most, followed by head, face and ear injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

“Plan ahead for mishaps,” said Special Agent Phillip Whitley, of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It’s also important to understand which fireworks are legal in your area, he said.

Fireworks should be left unaltered and only used as directed by the warning label that’s required by federal law. An improvised, altered firework can lead to burns, amputation of limbs and even death.Some fireworks that are illegal in the state include: M-80s or larger, Silver Salutes, bottle rockets, firecrackers, missile-type rockets, cherry bombs and tennis bombs.

Throughout the state, there are more than 120 different professional displays.

“We want the Fourth to be safe,” said Jerry Farley, of the fireworks industry. “Let the firemen get a good night sleep and the police be bored. If they are bored even just a little bit, that means there are less firework problems.”

Fireworks safety

-Always have a designated, sober, responsible adult light fireworks.

-Never allow children to light fireworks.

-Only light fireworks outside, away from trees, buildings, dry fields and wood storage areas.

-Keep a bucket of water nearby to put all used fireworks into.

-Keep a hose nearby in order to put out sparks.

-Never light more than one firework at a time; once lit, move away quickly.

-Never relight a dud.

-Only use approved, legal, common fireworks from licensed retailers.

-Keep pets indoors.

-Never alter fireworks; leave them as you purchased them.

-Use only approved, legal and common fireworks from Washington state and King County Fire Marshal-licensed retailers.

-Avoid aerial fireworks.

-Use eye protection.

-Remember your neighbors and clean up all debris.

-If it has a stick or fins and it goes up or if it blows up, it is illegal in Washington state.

-Rather than buying fireworks, attend a public fireworks display when available and make that a family tradition.

Sources: Eastside Fire & Rescue, King County website

City fireworks ordinances


Bellevue, Burien, Carnation, Clyde Hill, Des Moines, Federal Way, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Medina, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, SeaTac, Seattle, Shoreline, Tukwila, Woodinville and Yarrow Point

Fourth of July use allowed

Auburn, Black Diamond, Bothell, Covington, Duvall, Enumclaw, Kent, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, North Bend, Pacific, Skykomish and Snoqualmie

Unincorporated King County

Fireworks can be used between 9 a.m. and midnight July 4 only. Local unincorporated areas include, Klahanie, Preston and the east Renton Highlands, and areas along state Route 900, May Valley Road Southeast and Issaquah Hobart Road Southeast.

Fines for discharging fireworks (NOTE: Issaquah and Newcastle are the same)

-Many cities have fines associated with discharging legal and illegal fireworks. The fines vary, but in every case, the fireworks will be confiscated.

-Issaquah: It is a criminal offense to discharge fireworks. Typically, officers will issue a verbal warning and confiscate them for a first offense. If you are caught with them again, a citation will be issued.

-Newcastle: It is a criminal offense to discharge fireworks. Typically, officers will issue a verbal warning and confiscate them for a first offense. If you are caught with them again, a citation will be issued.

-Sammamish: There is a fine of $250 for each discharge of a legal firework, a $500 fine for possession of an illegal firework and a $1,000 fine for each discharge of an illegal one.

-Under the state’s revised code, possessing less than one pound of fireworks is a misdemeanor and possessing more than one pound is considered a gross misdemeanor. You can be arrested for either and fines will likely be issued with a citation. In addition, the sale or use of explosive devices, such as M-80s, M-100s and homemade or modified fireworks, are a felony offense and violators may face criminal prosecution.

-Only call 911 if there is an emergency or you need immediate help on the Fourth of July. Calling 911 for nonemergencies can prohibit people who need help from getting it. To report nonemergencies, like the use of illegal fireworks, call 837-3200.

Elizabeth DeVos: 392-6434 or Comment at

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One Response to “Know safety, laws about fireworks”

  1. County fireworks rules apply for New Year’s Eve merrymaking : The Issaquah Press – News, Sports, Classifieds in Issaquah, WA on December 31st, 2010 8:00 am

    […] Officials reminded residents to set off only approved and legal fireworks purchased from reliable state- and King County Fire Marshal Division-licensed retailers. Remember to obey fireworks regulations and practice fireworks safety. […]

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