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Celebrate Fourth of July responsibly

ARLINGTON — Although this spring has been wetter-than-usual, local fire and law enforcement officials are urging community members to still exercise care if they decide to light off fireworks this Fourth of July.

“Even though we have had significant precipitation that doesn’t protect wood roofs or wood piles,” said Arlington Fire Chief Jim Rankin. “There’s also the threat of warm weather and windy conditions. A lot of vegetation will burn even though it’s green.”

The city of Arlington does authorize residents within the city limits to set off legal fireworks from 9 a.m. until midnight on July 4. Legal fireworks include sparklers, Roman candles and cone fountains.

Fireworks sales in Washington state began at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 28, and will continue until 9 p.m. on Independence Day.

While the potential vegetation and brush fires are a constant concern for local firefighters and emergency medical personnel, noise complaints are the Arlington Police Department’s most common calls for service.

Arlington Police Chief Bob Sullenberger said that the majority of those complaints come after hours.

“We want citizens to be aware of their neighbors,” Sullenberger said. “We ask people to be tolerant — it happens every year. On the other side, we’re also asking people who are shooting off fireworks to be good neighbors.”

Both officials said that Arlington residents have not had any major fireworks-related injuries or accidents in recent history.

“We’ve been very fortunate over the last couple of years,” Rankin said. “The primary reason is that we’re very aware and concerned during this period. Often we will have our units out in the street so that they’re much more readily available.”

According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, there were more than 1,000 fires and 200 injuries involving fireworks reported to the agency in 2009.

The majority of the incidents were caused by boys aged 8-14.

Both officials said that they recommend Arlington residents attend the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club.

Fireworks tips from the Arlington Fire Department:

• If residents do purchase fireworks, officials recommend that they do not purchase unpackaged fireworks. People should also buy their fireworks from a licensed vendor.

• Fireworks should be lit on a smooth, flat surface and aimed away from buildings, dry grass, vegetation or other flammable materials. A bucket of water or a running hose should also be kept nearby.

• Parents should never allow their children to light off fireworks, nor should any person try to relight fireworks that have not ignited.

• Fireworks should not be thrown or held when discharged. Residents should also be sure other people are out of range.

• Residents should always discharge fireworks outdoors and not under any covered areas, such as patios or awnings.

• Officials suggest residents avoid drinking alcohol when lighting fireworks.

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