Who ya gonna call with a fireworks gripe in Clark County?

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 

Around the Fourth of July, there is a lot of noise, commotion and potential danger that can accompany the holiday's festivities. During the celebration — if something seems amiss — you may find yourself wondering if you should call 911.

In many cases, no.

Most commonly, people call to report a noise complaint, which is not an emergency issue. Clark County Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway said he received calls and questions early this year.

The rule of thumb, he said, is to call 911 if your safety or property is at risk by the reckless use of fireworks.

When you should call 911:

• For fireworks related injuries (burns, injury to the eye, severed body parts).

• A fire starts from fireworks use.

• A neighbor is making fireworks in the garage.

• If you've found a piece of pipe with a fuse coming out of it.

When to call the Fire Marshal's non-emergency line, 360-397-2186, or email firemar@clark.wa.gov during regular business hours:

• To report fireworks being used after hours.

• To report fireworks being used in a ban area.

• To get rid of old consumer fireworks.

If it's after 5 p.m. and you have a complaint, then 911 is really the only option, Dunaway said.

The tricky one is reporting illegal fireworks since they can be difficult to tell apart from legal fireworks. While many people report them, the fireworks often turn out to be legal.

"We never know what we're going to encounter," Dunaway.

To stay safe this holiday, Dunaway recommends people light fireworks away from any combustible: bark dust, fences or dry grass. At the end of the night, pick up all of the fireworks and put them in a bucket of water to cool down. Often, fires start when people dispose of fireworks in a garbage can or recycling bin without completely cooling them off first, he said.

Another way to be safe? Be a considerate neighbor and follow the county's fireworks regulations outlined on the Clark County fire marshal's website.

Patty Hastings: 360-735-4513; http://www.twitter.com/col_cops;patty.hastings@columbian.com.