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Leash on fireworks varies

6:26 pm June 21st, 2012

The Dispatch

The start of fireworks sales for the annual Fourth of July celebration is about a week away, followed by legal dates to use them that vary widely depending on location.

In the town of Eatonville and in unincorporated areas of Pierce County, including Graham, the sales period is virtually identical and mirrors the state law. Licensed fireworks stands can sell their goods June 28 through July 4 in Eatonville, while in county areas, the sales are extended one more day to July 5.

As for when fireworks can be set off, the hours in Pierce County are noon to 11 p.m. June 28 and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 29-July 5. Eatonville’s time limit is noon to 11 p.m. July 3-4.

Eatonville’s Town Council, in a decision that didn’t take effect until this year, voted last May to make July 3-4 the only days the public can shoot off fireworks in the town in celebration of the nation’s Independence Day. That’s a change from the earlier dates of June 28 through July 4.

The shorter timeframe for pyrotechnic revelry is intended to reduce the risks of injury, property damage and fire, as well as litter resulting from consumer fireworks.

Also taking effect this year is a ban on fireworks being discharged on public property such as streets, sidewalks and parks. That regulation is aimed at controlling litter left behind by fireworks users who don’t clean up after themselves.

Town officials have promised to enforce the regulations, even though violators virtually must be caught in the act by police in order to receive citations.

A proposal by County Councilman Dick Muri early this year to allow citizens to discharge fireworks only on July 4 in unincorporated areas of the county was rejected by the rest of the council. A five-member council majority – including Councilman Roger Bush, whose district includes the Eatonville and Graham areas – decided in February that a single-day limit would be too hard to enforce, which disappointed supporters of Muri’s proposal but pleased its opponents, including representatives of the fireworks industry.

Eatonville again will be the site of an annual community fireworks show, which will have the distinction of being the only one in Pierce County on July 3. Other llicensed shows in around the county will all be on the Fourth – in Orting, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, Lake Tapps, Steilacoom and Tacoma, and at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

State fire marshal Charles Duffy last week advised that buying fireworks over the Internet is illegal. State law allows them to only be purchased from a licensed retail fireworks stand during legal sales periods.

Duffy also urged people using fireworks to have water nearby to extinguish any accidental fires, put pets indoors to shield them from being overly frightened by the noise, to allow only adults to light fireworks, and to clean up fireworks debris.

More information about state and local fireworks laws is available at http://www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/fireworks.htm.

Extremely loud devices known as M-80s and cherry bombs continue to be banned under state law. Their possession and use is a felony.

In addition to the Fourth of July holiday, fireworks are allowed in Eatonville one other time a year – on New Year’s Eve, starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and ending at 1 a.m. Jan. 1.

 

 

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