Fourth of July passes with little chaos in Federal Way

A strict no-fireworks ordinance and the weather contributed to a July 4 holiday that appears to have been less chaotic than recent years.

The holiday is a busy one for the police department and fire district, which must ensure that residents are following the city’s fireworks ordinance while also protecting individuals and property from illegal explosives.

The police department documents the number of warnings and citations it issues in relation to the city’s fireworks ordinance. This year’s July 4 celebrations, in general, seemed to pass with increased compliance from residents.

“It seemed quieter than usual,” police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said.

South King Fire and Rescue prepared for an active three-day weekend, but things were calmer than expected. The fire district responded to five brush fires and one dumpster fire that were thought to be attributed to fireworks, spokeswoman Kirsti Weaver said. She was not aware of any medical calls received. The holiday was not any busier than any other day of the week, Weaver said.

“I think it’s a combination of education that fireworks are illegal, and the weather probably had some impact,” she said.

In 2007, the police department issued 37 warnings and citations to citizens who illegally lighted fireworks inside city boundaries. Of these, 26 were citations to adults and 11 were case reports for juveniles, according to a Federal Way police After Action Report from July 4, 2007, prepared by Cmdr. Kyle Sumpter.

Additionally, a 12-year-old girl drowned in Steel Lake Park last Independence Day. Two house fires and 14 brush fires also took place in close proximity to the holiday, Weaver said. The house fires were not caused by fireworks, she said.

Federal Way resident H. David Kaplan told the city council July 1 that he stays home for the holiday to make sure his house does not catch fire from the many fireworks illegally launched by his neighbors. He urged the city and police department to make available a report of fireworks citations and warnings issued this year as soon as possible.

The police department expects to release a complete report on the July 4 holiday policing efforts and residents’ compliance with the no-fireworks ordinance July 15 at the Federal Way City Council meeting.

Contact Jacinda Howard: or (253) 925-5565.

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