Fireworks are still illegal in Federal Way

Fireworks like this sparkling fountain are illegal to set off in Federal Way. - File photo
Fireworks like this sparkling fountain are illegal to set off in Federal Way.
— image credit: File photo

Fireworks sales have already begun and the Fourth of July holiday is fast approaching.

Here is a refresher course to help ensure a safe Independence Day.

In the city limits of Federal Way, it is illegal to set off fireworks. This includes even items such as sparklers. The law came into effect in 1990 when the city incorporated.

Despite the ban, last year police issued 43 criminal citations and 30 warnings. Again this year, police will be out responding to fireworks complaints.

With the misdemeanor criminal citations, people caught with fireworks must face a judge, who will then determine the fine, spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said.

It is legal to set off fireworks outside the city limits, in unincorporated King County, from 9 a.m. to midnight July 4.

Emergency responders are already preparing for the holiday, which in the past has ranged from just a regular business day to one that generates numerous calls for service.

South King Fire and Rescue will have a couple of extra engines on duty that day, mainly to cover the festivities at Celebration Park in Federal Way and the Fourth of July festival in Des Moines.

Many of the calls on July 4 are more related to the festivities, including drownings in the past at local lakes. However, spokeswoman Kendra Kay said the department has also responded to house fires from fireworks on past Fourth of July holidays.

In 2008, 785 fireworks incidents were reported to the state fire marshal’s office, with 27 percent of these incidents having no adult supervision. This included 267 injuries, of which 95 were children under age 14.

For residents in the unincorporated areas, or those who decide to set off fireworks, Kay has some advice.

"Make sure there is adult supervision," Kay said. "We want people to be doing it safely, not being daredevils going for the loudest pop and bang. A lot of sparklers get to thousands of degrees, it's very hot. We would recommend that people go to local fireworks displays rather than their own. Be careful, have water ready and don't light fireworks near any structures — fires happen that way."

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