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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Clark County to consider limits on types of fireworks that can be discharged

By Jack Heffernan, Columbian county government and small cities reporter
Published: November 22, 2020, 6:00am

The Clark County Council will soon consider an ordinance that would limit the types of fireworks that can be discharged in unincorporated areas.

The council will hold a virtual public hearing at 10 a.m. Dec. 1. The ordinance would limit fireworks sales and use to those that are “safe and sane,” or ones that travel no more than 1 foot into the air or no more than 6 feet on the ground.

The ordinance, if approved at the hearing, would take effect Dec. 1, 2021, keeping current rules in place for the upcoming New Year’s and Fourth of July holidays.

This year, the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office received 404 fireworks noise complaints between June 28 and July 5, county Fire Marshal Dan Young told the council during an Oct. 21 work session. In the four years prior, the number of calls ranged from 305 to 555 annually.

The fire marshal’s office responded to five fires caused by fireworks around Fourth of July this year. They included two house fires — causing about $40,000 worth of damage — one vehicle fire, a dumpster fire and a brush fire.

At least 90 percent of the calls typically were near Vancouver, Young said.

Fireworks that are currently legal in the county include cylindrical fountains, smoke devices, Roman candles, parachutes, wheels, ground spinners, reloadable mortars, dipped sticks, sparklers and novelties. Of the illegal types, the most commonly used include firecrackers, bottle rockets and M-80s, Young said.

The council has held more than a dozen discussions about fireworks in recent years. Before the Fourth of July holiday in 2019, the county narrowed the time window in which residents were allowed to set off fireworks.

Council Chair Eileen Quiring and Councilor Gary Medvigy, who represents rural District 4 on the east side of the county, have been against considering an ordinance. They’ve mentioned that, due to COVID-19, the council is currently unable to hold in-person public hearings.

“We need more time to let the public adjust, for everyone to adjust,” Medvigy said, referencing the county’s change to fireworks rules a couple of years ago. “It’s a heartfelt issue.”

Councilors Julie Olson, Temple Lentz and John Blom — all of whom represent more urban districts than Medvigy — have supported moving the ordinance forward.

Olson called the “safe and sane” policy a compromise in lieu of a full ban.

“There’s no right to blow up our neighborhoods with fireworks that start fires, frankly, and terrorize our seniors and our pets,” Olson said. “I continue to hear from the community about this topic.”

The hearing will be available on CVTV at cvtv.org or by dialing 408-418-9388, access code 146-010-0695. Written comments, which will be provided to councilors and read aloud during the hearing, can be submitted at https://clark.wa.gov/councilors/clark-county-council-meetings.

Columbian county government and small cities reporter