Regulations to know as fireworks sales get underway


The pandemic is leading to a boom in backyard firework shows

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Fourth of July is just around the corner and firework sales are now underway in Washington

According to the Washington State Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Wittenberg, the pandemic is leading to a boom in backyard firework shows. ​Wittenberg’s biggest concern is how the pandemic is affecting group gatherings and canceling professional fireworks shows.

His office is anticipating a surge in sales and in sirens. With more backyard firework shows likely to happen — ​the fire marshal is worried they won’t be done safely. ​That’s why fire departments and medics are ready to respond to injuries. ​

“We are concerned that people will get too close to the fireworks,” Wittenberg said. “They will not put them on level ground, which will allow them to kind of discharge in directions that are not intended. Most of the injuries that occur from fireworks are from being too close to the fireworks themselves.”​

He says home fireworks spark fires every year — an issue that needs to be on everyone’s radar.  ​

“We don’t want to allow for any complacency that any kind of firework discharged into a wild area could allow a construction sort of a wildfire or structure fire.”​

While Washington state does allow fireworks, Wittenberg says local cities and counties have the final say. ​For instance, the City of Vancouver doesn’t allow any fireworks to be set off, not even the safe and sane ones. 

He recommends you double-check the rules where you live.​

Some of those rules include times in which it’s legal to light fireworks because it differs from day to day. Wittenberg also says you must know where it’s legal to buy them.

“We certainly encourage people to buy them for licensed and permitted stands,” he said. “Any illegal fireworks that are not allowed anywhere in Washington state include firecrackers, bottle rockets, any modified fireworks, any homemade fireworks, as well as some of the larger ones like in the 80s and then the 100s.” ​

Online shopping is big during this pandemic — but the fire marshal warns that you can’t buy fireworks online and have them delivered to your door. In Washington, that’s illegal.

You either have to buy fireworks at a permitted stand. If buying online, fireworks have to be bought from a licensed wholesaler and shipped to a stand for pick up.

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