City lays down the law on fireworks
August 27, 2008 · Updated 3:39 PM
ARLINGTON With the Fourth of July fast approaching, Arlington Fire Department Deputy Chief Tom Cooper wants to remind all area residents of when its legal to purchase and set off their fireworks, as well as to let them know what fireworks are legal to purchase and set off, for the sake of their own safety.
Within the city of Arlington itself, its only legal to sell fireworks from 9 a.m. June 28 through 9 p.m. July 4. Even for those who purchase their fireworks elsewhere, those fireworks are only allowed to be lit up from 9 a.m. to midnight July 4. Cooper pointed out that these rules and regulations are enforced to protect citizens, especially children.
When in doubt, its always best to err on the side of caution, Cooper said. Ive seen far too many fingers and hands blown off, in addition to ruptured eardrums and injuries to body parts caused by fragments. People can forget that these are explosive items. You will see our units out on the street, before, on and after the Fourth of July.
On behalf of the Arlington Fire Department, Cooper encouraged locals to limit or refrain from personal use of fireworks, in favor of attending the citys fireworks show July 4, starting at 9 p.m. in the sports field adjacent to the Arlington Boys and Girls Club. For those who choose to use fireworks, Cooper noted that many of the injuries caused by fireworks each year could have been prevented, if the people using them had followed simple safety guidelines.
Cooper emphasized that those lighting fireworks should be prepared, safe and responsible. To be prepared, he instructed community members to use only state legal fireworks, purchased at licensed stands, and to store them out of the reach of children. To be safe, he advised that only adults should be allowed to light fireworks, and should limit themselves to setting off one firework at a time, as well as wearing eye protection and keeping water nearby. To be responsible, he urged people to soak their used fireworks in water, and to clean up the fireworks debris.
Although many types of fireworks may be purchased on tribal reservations, they may not be lit outside of the reservations unless they qualify as state legal. Among the list of state legal fireworks are sparklers, cylindrical and cone fountains, illuminating torches, wheels and ground spinners, flitter sparklers, mines and shells, smoke devices, Roman candles, helicopter aerial spinners, and items containing combinations of two or more of the aforementioned fireworks.
Explosive devices which are illegal to use, or even possess, in Washington State include firecrackers and chasers, bottle rockets, any other missiles or rockets, any altered fireworks or homemade devices, cherry bombs, pipe bombs, tennis balls, M-80s, M-100s or anything larger. Cooper cited state statistics indicating that 90 percent of all fire-works-related injuries in Washington are caused by firecrackers, bottle rockets or other rockets.
Because of the serious medical consequences that can result from improper use of fireworks, serious legal consequences are also involved. People who use fireworks irresponsibly can be charged with malicious mischief, assault, or even a gross misdemeanor for the possession of illegal explosive devices, including fireworks that have been tampered with. Such a gross misdemeanor charge can result in a fine of as much as $5,000, as well as a year in prison.
In light of the fires, injuries and legal penalties that can be incurred for not following these rules, Cooper hopes that area residents will work with the citys police and fire departments to ensure that this years Fourth of July celebration is a safe one for all involved.