A proposal to reduce the number of days to legally ignite Fourth of July fireworks in unincorporated Pierce County went down to defeat with a thud today.
Dick Muri was the only Pierce County Council member to vote for his proposal to cut the number of days from eight to one: the holiday itself.
Several council members said restricting fireworks further was unenforceable.
“We can’t enforce the current statutes,” said council member Roger Bush. The county doesn’t have the manpower and resources to back up a stricter law, Bush said.
Council member Rick Talbert said Muri’s plan would unrealistically raise the public’s expectations for enforcing the restrictions.
“All we’re going to do is frustrate the citizens even more,” Talbert said.
The council voted 5 to 1 against the proposal. Council member Dan Roach was absent.
Fire officials and a few citizens spoke in favor of the tougher law. Others, including some within the fireworks industry, spoke against it.
That’s been the shape of the debate since Muri brought up the issue in August after he heard an earful from his constituents about Fourth of July fireworks.
“For a week, it was a war zone between Steilacoom and Lakewood,” said Muri, R-Steilacoom.
Randy Stephens, assistant chief of Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, said reducing the number of days for setting off fireworks was enforceable with education.
“To say that we can’t enforce an ordinance like this, I believe to be nonsense,” Stephens said. The council needs to have fire officials and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department come up with a plan for enforcement, he said.
Joe Lewis, who lives between Lakewood and Steilacoom, said the tougher law was needed “to limit the pain and discomfort that fireworks inflict on innocent animals.”
In the unincorporated county, “safe and sane” fireworks are legal for at least 11 hours each day from June 28 through July 5.
The longest period is from 9 a.m.-midnight July 4. Muri wanted to reduce the Independence Day hours to noon-midnight.
The reduction wouldn’t have taken effect until 2013.
The measure appeared dead as proposed back in November when four council members – a majority of the council’s seven members – opposed the plan.