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Federal Way police will enforce fireworks code

Evonna Vickers works for Rolling Thunder Fireworks, located on Puyallup reservation land on 29th Street NE (near SW 356th Street and 21st Avenue SW, bordering Federal Way and Northeast Tacoma). Pictured is an artillery kit that costs $180. Vickers expects business to pick up this weekend with last-minute customers. - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Evonna Vickers works for Rolling Thunder Fireworks, located on Puyallup reservation land on 29th Street NE (near SW 356th Street and 21st Avenue SW, bordering Federal Way and Northeast Tacoma). Pictured is an artillery kit that costs $180. Vickers expects business to pick up this weekend with last-minute customers.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

Federal Way is among at least 22 cities in King County with a ban on fireworks.

Setting off fireworks within city limits has been against city code since Federal Way incorporated in 1990. Special enforcement teams from the Federal Way Police Department will patrol the city for violators before, during and after the Fourth of July holiday. Emphasis patrols will also cover Celebration Park, Steel Lake Park and other parks and neighborhoods throughout the city.

In unincorporated King County, fireworks may be discharged from 9 a.m. to midnight only on July 4.

In 2010, the discharge of illegal fireworks inside city limits became a civil infraction punishable by a ticket. Those in violation of the fireworks ordinance can be cited on location and have their fireworks confiscated. A first-time offender will receive a $100 fine. Second- and third-time offenders will be issued a $200 and $300 ticket, respectively. The tickets are similar to a parking citation and can be contested.

Fireworks sales began June 28 and are legal between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. through July 4. No sales can occur after July 4. To purchase fireworks, you must be at least 16 years old with picture identification.

In 2010, South King Fire and Rescue responded to seven fireworks-related fires within the fire district, which encompasses Federal Way, Des Moines and unincorporated King County.

Deputy Chief Gordie Olson said Federal Way’s fireworks ban is responsible for a relatively low number of fireworks-related incidents each year. Olson estimates the fire district responds to an average of six to 12 minor burn injuries related to Fourth of July fireworks, often caused when people get too close to sparks.

“I can’t remember the last time someone was killed or seriously injured,” said Olson, a 30-year fire service veteran. “I bet it’s been 20 years since I’ve seen stuff that classified as a little more serious.”

According to the most recent statistics from the National Fire Protection Association’s fireworks report (www.nfpa.org):

• 32 percent of all emergency room fireworks injuries were attributed to sparklers, fountains and novelties.

• The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 10-14.

• 84 percent of emergency room fireworks injuries involved fireworks that federal regulations permit consumers to use.

• 18,000 reported fires were started by fireworks resulting in 30 civilian injuries, and $38 million in direct property damage including 1,300 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires.

 

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