Ridgefield city councilors voted Thursday night to restrict fireworks use in the city, following a recent trend around Clark County of municipalities limiting the days people can shoot off fireworks.
The council voted 5-1 in favor of limiting firework use to 9 a.m. until midnight July 4, with sales allowed from July 1 through 4. Currently, Ridgefield allows fireworks use from June 28 through July 5. The city previously allowed fireworks use on New Year’s Eve, but voted to change that in November 2017. This year will be the city’s first New Year’s Eve not allowing fireworks use.
Ridgefield’s vote comes after the Clark County Council voted 3-2 to limit fireworks use in all unincorporated areas from 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4, Battle Ground city councilors voted 4-3 in favor of limiting the discharging of fireworks to July 3 and 4 and Camas city councilors voted 5-2 in favor of restricting fireworks use from 9 a.m. until midnight on July 4.
All of the new regulations start in 2019.
“Every Fourth of July, the conversation (to limit firework use) happens,” Ridgefield City Manager Steve Stuart said. “It’s just happened more over the last few years.”
He attributes two factors to that: people living closer together because of growth and being concerned about their neighbors, and the Eagle Creek Fire, a fireworks-caused fire that caused major damage to the Columbia River Gorge.
Along with limiting sale and discharge dates, Ridgefield councilors voted to grant permission to the fire marshal, in consultation with city officials, to possibly suspend or ban the discharge of fireworks upon consideration of current moisture levels, wind speeds, lack of rain and other fire-related factors.
They also established a set of penalties for those disobeying the new regulations. It will cost those who launch fireworks outside of the allowed day and times $100 for a first violation, $250 for a second violation and $500 for all subsequent violations. Discharge of illegal fireworks will cost $250 on a first violation, $500 for a second and $1,000 for subsequent violations.
Councilor David Taylor was the only person to vote against the measure. While he was for limiting use, he thought there could have been a second day where residents could use fireworks, Stuart said. Councilor John Main missed the meeting due to an illness.
The council hosted a public hearing on the fireworks issue at its June 14 meeting, and nearly everyone who spoke wanted the city to limit fireworks use.