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Pierce County and cities should seek consistent fireworks laws

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Aug. 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm with 3 Comments »
August 19, 2011 4:25 pm

"Safe-and-sane" fireworks were on sale at a Thurston County stand in 2010. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri recently summed up what’s wrong with the county’s lax fireworks law:

“It’s not Independence Week that I know of,” he said, referring to the fact that residents of the unincorporated county can legally set off “safe and sane” fireworks for 11 hours daily during the eight days between June 28 and July 5. Muri is part of a County Council committee exploring whether to reduce the hours and days fireworks can be set off or to ban them outright.

If shooting off fireworks truly is an expression of patriotic fervor, celebrating July Fourth’s role in the nation’s history, why allow it more than a week before Independence Day? Or the day after?

“We could maybe at least keep the carnage down to one day,” Muri sensibly suggests.

That would be more in keeping with neighboring counties. Fireworks are limited to July 4 in unincorporated King County and to July 3 and 4 in Thurston.

The towns and cities in Pierce County have a hodgepodge of laws regarding when fireworks can be set off. Some cities allow them July 3-5, including Lakewood and Bonney Lake. Others allow them for several days before the Fourth and the day after, including Gig Harbor, Fife, Buckley and Roy. They’re limited to July 4 in Milton, Auburn, Orting, Pacific, Puyallup, Sumner and University Place.

Cities that ban fireworks outright – including Tacoma, Steilacoom, Ruston, Fircrest, Lacey, Federal Way and Des Moines – don’t completely escape the noise and fire threat. Invariably some people choose to ignore the law, but bans probably do reduce the problem somewhat.

And let’s be honest here: The “safe and sane” fireworks – the kind that can be bought at the temporary stands set up in grocery store parking lots – aren’t the ones causing the noise, injuries and fires, it’s the “unsafe and insane” fireworks sold on tribal lands. But if the time frame for “safe and sane” types is limited, it likely will cut down on the other kind, too.

Ideally, fireworks should be left to the experts. But at the very least, Pierce County and its cities should strive for more uniformity in their laws. Limiting fireworks to the actual day that is supposedly being celebrated is a good start.

Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. nwcolorist says:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    I just don’t get the mentality behind this idea. What does Dick Muri and Co. have against people that love the 235 year-old tradition of shooting off fireworks? The damage done is infinitesimal compared to the multitudes that responsibly enjoy setting them off every year. And the police are unable to enforce the law as it now stands, let alone an expanded version of it.

    There are many ways to deal with this other than a total ban. It will not work, and probably just create more more scofflaws and disrespect for the law.

    Please reconsider this counter-productive proposal.

  2. Omega6234 says:

    NWCOLORIST is spot on. Well said.

  3. everyone says:

    Like anything, booze, drugs, etc. if you outlaw them, many folks are just attracted to them. I say you make them legal 365 days per year, tax the hell out of them and put the $ toward something good. Folks will blow their wad throughout the year and won’t have enough dough come July 4th to rais much hell.

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