Fired up about fireworks? Know rules for use

Sales will begin soon; laws not same for all cities, county

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

Fire officials are urging people to use Fourth of July fireworks safely and legally this summer. They’re also emphasizing that different jurisdictions have different laws governing when people can light those fuses.

Depending on where they live, early-bird shoppers might have to wait a few days after purchase to set off their celebratory displays. Fireworks go on sale at noon June 28 around the county, but periods in which they can legally be fired off range from eight days down to just one day.

On the Web:

Fireworks rules are listed at the county's website

The discharge period has been limited to July 4 in Washougal because of noise complaints when people were shooting off fireworks for a week or so, Washougal Fire Chief Ron Schumacher said.

For the second year in a row, the city of Vancouver will have a four-day discharge season, starting on July 1.

Only Camas, Battle Ground and Ridgefield allow residents to set off fireworks on July 5.

There are also some differences in schedules for fireworks stands: Sales will continue until 9 p.m. on July 5 in Camas, Washougal, Battle Ground and Ridgefield.

While there are penalties for illegal use, “We focus our efforts on educating the public,” Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said.

Legal times for fireworks use:

• VANCOUVER: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 1 through July 3; 9 a.m. to midnight July 4.

• CAMAS: Noon to 11 p.m. June 28; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 29 through July 3; 9 a.m. to midnight July 4; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 5.

• WASHOUGAL: 9 a.m. to midnight July 4.

• BATTLE GROUND: Noon to 11 p.m. June 28; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 29 through July 3; 9 a.m. to midnight July 4; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 5.

• RIDGEFIELD: Noon to 11 p.m. June 28; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 29 through July 3; 9 a.m. to midnight July 4; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 5.

• LA CENTER: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 29 through July 3; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 4.

• YACOLT: Noon to 11 p.m. June 28; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 29 through July 3; 9 a.m. to midnight July 4.

• UNINCORPORATED CLARK COUNTY: Noon to 11 p.m. June 28; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 29 through July 3; 9 a.m. to midnight July 4.

Safety tips

“Before people even light them, they should be prepared,” Scarpelli said. “Stay at least 25 feet from combustible materials, and have a hose ready to go.”

Other safety tips include:

• Be legal: Officials recommend buying only from a licensed fireworks stand with items clearly labeled with the name of the item, manufacturer and instructions for proper use. Firecrackers, bottle rockets and items described as M-80s, M-100s and blockbusters are illegal and can cause serious injury or death, officials say. Tribal fireworks might not be legal for use off tribal land.

• Supervise children: Only adults should light fireworks. Do not allow young children to play with fireworks. Older children should only use them under adult supervision. Children must be 16 years (with ID) to buy fireworks.

• Follow directions: Even sparklers, which burn at more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, can be dangerous if used improperly, Scarpelli said. Light only one firework at a time, and don’t try to re-light a dud. Protect your eyes and never have any portion of your body directly over fireworks.

• Keep pets safe: Keep animals indoors with curtains and windows closed. Be sure your pet’s collar is secure, with a current license tag. The license will help get a runaway pet home and allow emergency medical care, if needed. If your pet goes missing, check with the Humane Society for Southwest Washington at 360-693-4746.

• Be a good neighbor: Pick up spent fireworks and dispose of them properly once they have cooled; soaking them overnight in a bucket of water before putting them in the trash is a good idea.

• Leave it to the experts: Visit a local celebration. Independence Day at Fort Vancouver presented by Bank of America will feature historic events and a fireworks display. Hours are noon to 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 online at http://www.fortvan.org; $7 at the gate for those 13 and older.