Illegal use of fireworks continues to plague our communities

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In 2001 the Marysville City Council voted 4-3 against a proposal to ban the discharge of fireworks within city limits saying that the issue could be addressed through enforcement and education. But six years later, it seems little progress has been made to abate the illegal use of fireworks a problem that affects all of north Snohomish County.
Despite the fact that Snohomish County and the cities of Arlington and Marysville all limit the discharge of fireworks to July 4, which is still two weeks away, the sound of fireworks going off can already be heard in many neighborhoods and its only going to get worse as the Fourth approaches.
While the disruptions caused by the sounds of fireworks going off at all hours of the evening may be of some concern, the primary concern with fireworks is safety. According to the 2005 Fireworks Report released by the Washington State Fire Marshals Office, there were 856 fireworks-related injuries and/or fires reported to the State Fire Marshal in 2005, of which 633 were fires and 233 were injuries that resulted in more than $1 million in property loss. The report shows that 102 reports (65 fires and 37 injuries) were received from Snohomish County.
The report also shows that illegal fireworks such as bottle rockets, firecrackers, and missile and rockets caused more than 50 percent of the injuries statewide. But even legal fireworks can be dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nationwide sparklers accounted for 17 percent of the injuries seen in emergency rooms. The CDC also reports that in 2005 four people died and an estimated 10,800 were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries. While these may just seem like statistics, we should not forget that in 1999 Shane Lynch, a 13-year-old local boy, was killed in a fireworks-related accident and in 2001 several vehicles were seriously damaged in Marysville by fireworks.
Because of the many concerns associated with the discharge of fireworks, some Snohomish County cities have banned their use. According to the Washington State Patrol, Snohomish County cities that ban fireworks include Edmonds, Everett, Gold Bar, Mill Creek, Mukilteo and Woodway. Without tangible progress being made in dealing with the illegal discharge of fireworks and the use of illegal fireworks, even more people will join those in our communities who already want to see our cities added to that list.
To ensure this doesnt happen, people in our communities must use fireworks in a safe and responsible manner, in accordance with the law and with respect for their neighbors. Community members wanting to celebrate the Fourth by setting off fireworks should only use state legal safe and sane fireworks that are available at licensed stands. In addition, they should follow local laws when setting them off. Snohomish County and the cities of Arlington and Marysville all restrict the discharge of fireworks to 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4.
For more than 230 years it has been a tradition to celebrate our nations independence with fireworks, and that tradition should continue. But if some irresponsible community members continue to insist on using fireworks illegally, community leaders may feel compelled to act. Lets make sure it doesnt come to that. Celebrate the Fourth, but do so responsibly, using common sense and only when the law allows.


To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey or Scott Frank e-mail forum@premier1.net.

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