Locals asked to consider safety first on Fourth of July

With fireworks going on sale starting at noon tomorrow, local fire officials are asking residents to use the utmost caution when it comes to lighting up fireworks.

On Friday, many families and friends will gather for annual barbecues and round out their day with fireworks.

But local authorities want to remind residents to exercise extreme caution during the Fourth of July weekend, especially with a majority of fireworks stands opening booths tomorrow.

In 2013, Kitsap County agencies responded to six fires and 14 injuries due to fireworks. Across Washington, 341 fireworks-related injuries and/or fires were reported to the Office of the State Fire Marshall by fire agencies and hospital emergency rooms.

If the numbers are any indicator, Kitsap County Fire Marshall David Lynam would prefer folks just attend professionally conducted fireworks shows.

“Go see a show,” said Lynam. “Enjoy the festivities in each of our communities.”

But, for those who wish to still indulge in their inner pyromania, there’s some ground rules that apply.

Fireworks will be on sale tomorrow through July 5, and with those come specific rules for lighting items off.

While there are plenty of options, some that are not for residents include bottle rockets, firecrackers and sky rockets, which are all banned.

“Those are banned everywhere in the state,” Lynam said.

The exception is if those items are purchased on Indian reservations. But those items must also be shot off on the reservation as well, he said.

Additionally, the purchase or use of M-80 or M-1000 fireworks is not allowed anywhere in the county. Lynam warns residents that if they are caught using them, the consequences are heavy and could include fines, jail time and even a felony.

“That’s an illegal explosive device,” he said. “We treat those the same as we treat bombs, because, really that’s what they are.”

For the fourth, discharging hours are between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. After that, disturbance calls are generally sent to local law enforcement to handle, Lynam said, since his department is usually tied up with fire inspections and the like.

Each year, Kitsap County fire departments receive phone calls regarding brush fires, and sometimes those get out of hand and damage buildings as well, Lynam noted.
Last year, across the state, firework related fires caused an estimated loss of over 2 million dollars.

“We haven’t had fireworks take buildings down in a little while,” he admitted.
But he hopes that trend above all Fourth of July trends, continues. Especially when it comes to calls regarding injuries from fireworks.

“Nationwide, the most common injury from fireworks is in the eyes,” he said.  “And after that it’s burns, and after that is more traumatic injury from holding the device when it goes off.”
Despite the public announcement warnings and the bright warning labels on the actual fireworks, the Office of the State Fire Marshall still records the constant trend of firework-related injuries and fires each and every year.

Of the injuries, the leading types in Washington last year included burns, which made of 54 percent of injuries reported. The second is trauma from being struck by or from holding a firework, which made up 36 percent of the reports.

“Leave fireworks to the professionals,” said Lynam. “That’s my advice to folks.”

For more information, residents are encouraged to call their local fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshall at 360-596-3946.

Where to watch fireworks

July 3

Place: Fireworks over Liberty  Bay
Time: 10:15 p.m.

July 4

Bainbridge Island
Event: Arnold Jackson Memorial Fireworks Show
Place: Over Eagle Harbor
Time: 10:20 p.m.

Event: Kingston Fourth of July Celebration
Place: Mike Wallace Park/Appletree Cove
Time: 10 p.m.

Port Orchard
Event: Grand Fireworks Show
Place: View from Port Orchard, Bremerton Concerts at Port Orchards Waterfront Gazebo
Time: 10:30 p.m.