Dry conditions mean officials concerned about fireworks

Rising fire danger adds to fire officials’ concerns about consumer fireworks over the 4th of July.

Sporadic rainfall the last few weeks hasn’t made up for moisture lost during an unusually dry spring. So, the Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association is urging the public to forego private fireworks. The county fire marshal implemented a Stage I Burn Ban June 12.

Consumer fireworks cause more than 19,000 fires annually in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s latest annual report says that fireworks caused an estimated 10,000 emergency room visits in 2019. In 2022, fireworks were the cause of 310 fires and 198 injuries in Washington state.

This year, fire officials say that the fire risks are far greater. While escaped controlled fires are the leading cause of wildland fires year-round, fireworks are to blame for the majority of incidents around July 4.

Bainbridge Island has permanently banned all consumer fireworks, and other jurisdictions may impose emergency bans if conditions continue to worsen. KCFCA has traditionally encouraged the public to “leave fireworks to the professionals” and attend public displays. This year, there are two public displays: Port Orchard at Fathoms of Fun July 1, and Kingston July 4. NFPA has a list of alternatives to fireworks that include glow sticks, silly string and noisemakers; an internet search reveals scores of additional fun ideas.Bremerton Fire Chief Patrick McGanney said, “If you are going to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, please celebrate responsibly and prevent fires by following local laws and using fireworks only in approved areas.”

Fireworks complaints

During 4th of July, only call 911 for a fireworks complaint if there is an imminent threat to life or property.

Callers with reports of hearing loud or illegal fireworks delay or block other callers with life threatening emergencies from reaching 911. Call 911 only if someone is injured, there is a fire started, if you witness someone attempting to start a fire with a firework or someone assaults a person with a firework.

Port Orchard, Bremerton, Poulsbo, Suquamish and Port Gamble police and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office will not respond to firework complaints that pose no threat to life or property.

Report nuisance fireworks to Bainbridge Island Police Department at 206-842-5211. Calls that include a specific location where fireworks are being discharged will be prioritized.

Most fireworks complaints are nuisance related. They are loud, being set off outside time perimeters, scaring animals or they might even be banned in your area. Report those online at www.kitsap911.org/fireworks. That website is available through July 7.

Fireworks rules vary between cities and unincorporated areas of Kitsap as well as on local tribes’ reservations. Check agency websites to see if fireworks are legal in your area and on what dates & times.