New fireworks regulations went into effect this Fourth of July in several Clark County small cities, and fire officials say it was a quiet holiday. Sort of.
“It was very noisy, as it usually is,” Clark County Fire & Rescue Chief John Nohr said. “It was relatively quiet as far as fires go.”
Clark County Fire & Rescue covers Ridgefield, which was looking at the first year in which the city only allowed fireworks discharging on the Fourth of July. Previously, Ridgefield allowed fireworks use June 28 through July 5. The city council voted in June 2018 to limit fireworks use.
It was the most recent in a string of small city fireworks ordinances in the last two years. Camas councilors voted to limit fireworks use to July 4 and Dec. 31, Battle Ground councilors voted to restrict fireworks use to July 3 and 4, and Washougal councilors voted in 2017 to allow only “safe and sane” fireworks in the city.
The Camas-Washougal Fire Department is facing a tricky situation, where the department covers two cities with different rules, Fire Marshal Ron Schumacher said.
“We were chasing many different calls,” Schumacher said. “We were going from call to call from about 7:30 (p.m.) for the next four hours. We did one confiscation and did one citation. It was mostly educational.”
Schumacher said he and others in the department tried to educate residents on the new restrictions in both cities, although the most confusion, or disobedience, came in regards to the new “safe and sane” regulation in Washougal.
“We had one stand (in Washougal) that just sold safe and sane; they couldn’t sell the aerials or Roman candles,” he said. “But there’s a stand in Camas right near city limits that can sell whatever. Some people bought fireworks there not realizing they weren’t allowed.”
In total, Schumacher said there were probably a dozen stops where fireworks were confiscated. The one citation, a $250 one, was issued to a man who was warned about the “safe and sane” regulation, and still lit off his fireworks later in the evening.
Schumacher said a few people they talked to were upset with the new regulations and planned to complain to the city council. Others were happy with the change, he added. If anything, the new regulations made more work for Schumacher and the two deputy fire marshals as they traveled around the area on the Fourth of July.
“It’s quite confusing for the citizens,” he said. “It’s just a lot of work and educating the people in what they can and can’t use. We didn’t used to have to do that.”
Even with the new regulations, Schumacher said the department didn’t have to respond to any fires Thursday night. Nohr said there was a bark dust fire in Ridgefield, although he wasn’t sure if it was caused by fireworks, a cigarette or something else. Neighbors put out the fire before the department responded, and wanted the firefighters to check on a few hot spots to make sure they were put out.