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Celebrate Independence Day safely
While the cities of Arlington and Marysville encourage their citizens to celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday in a festive manner, the cities’ police officers and firefighters want to make sure that those who choose to use fireworks do so in a safe and legal fashion.
The city of Arlington allows fireworks to be sold from 9 a.m. on June 28 to 9 p.m. on July 4, whereas the city of Marysville allows fireworks to be sold from noon to 11 p.m. on June 28 and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on June 29 through July 4. Marysville residents may discharge their fireworks between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 4, while Arlington residents may discharge their fireworks between 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4.
Neither city allows its residents to discharge their fireworks on any other day, and both cities limit their legal fireworks to Class C, or “safe and sane” fireworks. Neighboring Native American reservations may sell fireworks that do not conform to these laws, but such fireworks must be detonated on reservation lands.
According to Marysville Fire District Division Chief and Fire Marshal Tom Maloney, fireworks that are illegal off tribal lands include bottle rockets, skyrockets, missiles and firecrackers. M-80s and larger, as well as dynamite and any improvised, homemade or altered explosive devices such as tennis balls, sparkler bombs or cherry bombs are likewise illegal explosive devices, and those who possess or use such illegal explosive devices can expect to be charged with a felony.
In its online list of tips to the public, the Arlington Fire Department noted that illegal fireworks are often unpackaged and wrapped in plain brown paper, and warned against purchasing any fireworks that are not in their original packages, or are in opened or damaged packages.
Marysville police are taking enforcement of these laws seriously and will be citing those caught with illegal fireworks between now and the Fourth of July. Under state law, possession or discharge of illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to a year in jail and a mandatory court appearance. City of Marysville Community Information Officer Doug Buell pointed out that Marysville police can issue criminal citations to violators or civil citations, the latter similar to a standard ticket.
Marysville police may issue a civil infraction, or fine, in an amount up to $500, instead of a criminal citation. The criminal misdemeanor fine is consistent with the standard state penalty of an amount not to exceed $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail. Gross misdemeanor offenses carry a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a year in jail, and a person with three or more civil infractions within a two-year time period will be cited for a misdemeanor.
Marysville Police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux explained that such civil infractions enable officers to spend more time on the streets responding to fireworks complaints, and less time processing criminal citation paperwork. He added that the safety of individuals and property is the police department’s utmost concern.
“Use caution and follow safety rules for responsible use of fireworks,” Lamoureux said. “Illegal fireworks in particular pose a public safety and medical hazard, and they have the potential to cause property damage in the Marysville area.”
Although Arlington Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield believes that Arlington police are more likely to try and educate those using illegal fireworks, or those using fireworks illegally, she warned that, “If they have to make a repeat trip to your place for fireworks, it’ll probably result in a fine.”
Officials in both cities urge Fourth of July holiday revelers to clean up their fireworks after they’re finished.
“After you light it up, clean it up,” Buell said. “Discarded fireworks the days after the Fourth are a neighborhood eyesore, and smoldering, spent fireworks can still pose a fire hazard if not disposed of properly.”
To dispose of spent fireworks properly, the Arlington Fire Department advises that people let their used fireworks lay on the ground until they are cool and there is no chance that any residue will reignite, after which they should place all the expended firework cases in a bucket of water to soak them thoroughly. Those who use fireworks should keep a bucket of water or a running water hose close by in case of a firework malfunction or fire.
“Of course, we’d welcome everyone to check out the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce’s public fireworks display instead,” Banfield said. “Watchers won’t even have to clean up afterward. Plus, we just hate to hear about people losing loved ones or body parts from using fireworks on their own.”
For more information, visit the city of Marysville’s fireworks website at http://marysvillewa.gov/index.aspx?nid=362 and the city of Arlington’s fireworks website at http://arlingtonwa.gov/index.aspx?page=419.