Northwest NEWS

May 3, 1999

Local News

City ponders fireworks ban

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--The City Council will soon announce a decision on whether or not Woodinville will join most Eastside cities in a ban of all fireworks' sales within city limits. Citizens would be asked to limit their celebrations to viewing public fireworks displays.

   City Ordinance 29 already bans sale, possession, or explosion of any Class B fireworks, such as bottle rockets, M-80s, and other potentially harmful firecrackers. Any violation of Ordinance 29 carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or fines of up to $5,000, for each incident.

   A revision of that ordinance under consideration by the City Council would also ban possession or sale of Class C, "safe and sane," fireworks such as sparklers and snakes. Currently, Class C fireworks sellers must apply for a license prior to April 15 for July 4th sales.

   "We need to give one year's notice that we intend to completely ban fireworks within city limits," said City Manager Pete Rose. "An early decision will give public service organizations that use fireworks stands as fundraisers a chance to adjust their schedules for next year."

   For this year, the city is considering a shortening of the allowable time frame for the use of fireworks. Rose said the fire and police departments have expressed concern over the constant running from one call to another during July 4th celebrations.

   Police Chief Ken Wardstrom said 9-1-1 calls increase dramatically on July 4, which detracts from the department's ability to service the usual public needs for police assistance. He suggested that the city find some alternative for citizens calling 9-1-1 to complain about fireworks' explosions in their neighborhoods. Wardstrom also noted the enforcement problem caused by the lack of clearcut distinctions between safe and unsafe fireworks.

   City Council members Randy Ransom and Marsha Engel noted the public nuisance factor, the mess often left on streets, and the emotional trauma to animals that explosives cause.

   Redmond, Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, and Lake Forest Park completely ban fireworks.