Guest column: Skip the fireworks stands for a safer Fourth of July

  • Friday, June 30, 2017 7:30am
  • Opinion

Editor’s Note: The following guest column, now updated, originally ran two years ago in the Snoqualmie Valley Record.

By Mark Correira, Snoqualmie Fire Chief; Chris Connor, Fall City Fire District 27 Fire Chief; David Burke, Duvall Fire District 45 Fire Chief; and Lee Soptich, Eastside Fire and Rescue Fire Chief (retired)

Snoqualmie Valley fire chiefs are greatly concerned that our dry winter and even drier spring have created dangerous conditions for Fourth of July celebrations.

Emergency managers and fire chiefs in King County are working together to get the word out about the dangerous conditions. To keep our communities safe, we’re asking residents to attend a professional fireworks display instead of igniting private fireworks at their homes.

Tinder-dry conditions mixed with flaming materials from private firework displays dramatically increase the likelihood of wildfires. These fires — with or without wind — can spread rapidly and cause great devastation in a short period of time.

Safest choice

Professional fireworks shows will be put on locally in Snoqualmie and Carnation, as well as in Sammamish, Bellevue and Seattle. These events are managed by pyrotechnic companies. All fireworks are inspected before discharge, and the staff have appropriate fire protection standing by in case something goes awry.

Practice fire safety

If you choose to ignite fireworks, do not discharge them on or near dry grass or brush. At a minimum, residents igniting fireworks should have a charged garden hose close by, in case a fire starts.

Additionally, keep a bucket of water close by for discharged fireworks and to be used to put out any small fires. Discharged fireworks should first be soaked in a bucket of water and then be placed in a metal container overnight to confirm they are not a hazard.

Lastly, call 911 early if a fire is started, so firefighting crews can respond as soon as possible.

The discharge of fireworks by citizens in the city of Carnation is prohibited. Snoqualmie allows only sparklers and ground effects to be discharged. North Bend allows only “common” fireworks. In Fall City and unincorporated King County, there is no specific restriction on fireworks. In all jurisdictions except Carnation, fireworks can be discharged only between 9 a.m. and midnight, July 4.

Go to the following links for more fireworks safety tips:

www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fireworks, or

www.fireworkssafety.org/safety-tips.

In 2014, a firework ignited a house on Snoqualmie Ridge, injuring one firefighter and causing more than $700,000 in damage. Our goal, as always, is for Valley residents to enjoy a safe Fourth of July. We appreciate your part in keeping the valley safe, especially this year.