Emergency crews prepare for fireworks season

Fireworks go on sale in Camas July 1, and in Washougal July 2

Fireworks Safety Tips

• Always set fireworks off outdoors on a driveway or sidewalk.

• Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.

• Always have water nearby. (A hose or bucket).

• Be aware of other people around you and make sure they are out of range of the firework you are using.

• Never point or shoot fireworks at another person.

• Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.

• Do not try to re-ignite a “dud” as it could explode near your hands or face.

• Only light one at a time.

• Do not try to make your own fireworks.

• Never drink alcohol and use fireworks at the same time.

• Completely soak used fireworks overnight. Place soaked fireworks in a trash bag and place in an outdoor trash can or take them to your local waste facility.

Source: Washington State Patrol

The Fourth of July is a holiday when many people enjoy celebrating with fun activities, food and, of course, fireworks.

The rules and regulations governing the sale and use of fireworks vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction — what is legal in one city is not necessarily legal in another.

The city of Washougal has some of the most restrictive fireworks laws in Clark County. This year, its residents will be adjusting to some changes. In 2013, the City Council approved an ordinance that further limits sales to between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., July 2 through July 4. Discharge is still only allowed on July 4, from 9 a.m. to midnight.

Camas-Washougal Fire Department Fire Marshal Ron Schumacher said staff is working to get the word out about the new rules, including posting information on the city’s website.

“We’ll also be out patrolling a few nights, throughout the fireworks season,” he said.

Washougal Police Cmdr. Allen Cook said the changes to the local law won’t necessarily have an impact on the issues his officers deal with, or the type of coverage needed.

“It has been my experience that it is typically not the legal fireworks that cause issues — other than the garbage left in the road,” he said. “It is typically the illegal fireworks which make large explosions and the large rockets that seem to generate the 911 calls.”

Cook added that additional patrols have been scheduled for the evening of Friday, July 4, when an Independence Day celebration and fireworks display are planned at Marina Park.

In Camas city limits, a new set of laws was implemented in 2012. According to the guidelines, the sale, purchase and discharge of consumer fireworks are allowed July 1 through July 3, between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., and July 4, between 9 a.m. and midnight. On July 5, fireworks can only be purchased and sold between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. — discharge is not allowed.

CPD Capt. Shyla Nelson said patrol officers will focus first on educating the public, in most circumstances.

“For first time offenses, we like to educate and give a verbal warning if they are cooperating with police,” she said. “However, we will have zero tolerance for illegal IED’s, or improvised explosive devices.”

Explosive devices that are illegal include M-80s, pipe bombs, cherry bombs, tennis ball bombs, legal fireworks that are altered and dry ice bombs. Possession of illegal explosive devices, including altered legal fireworks, is considered a felony. Penalties for illegal possession and use of fireworks can be up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail.

In unincorporated Clark County, fireworks can be legally discharged Saturday, June 28, from noon to 11 p.m.; Sunday, June 29 through Thursday, July 3, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Friday, July 4, from 9 a.m. to midnight. They can be sold from noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., from Sunday, June 29 to Friday, July 4.

Fireworks legal in Washington include novelty and smoke items, sparklers and spinners, multi-aerials, helicopters, cones and fountains, wheels, roman candles and re-loadable mortars — 1 ¾-inch or smaller.

“Be safe with legal fireworks,” Schumacher stressed. “No bottle rockets or fire crackers allowed.”

Legal fireworks will be available to purchase from stands that will be located in the Camas-Washougal area. Sales at many of them will benefit local non-profit organizations, groups and causes such as the Lions Club and the Camas High School drug- and alcohol free graduation night party.

Schumacher said permits have been issued for stands in Washougal at Westlie Ford, 115 S. First St., Bi-Mart, 3003 Addy St., Evergreen Marketplace, 3307 Evergreen Way.

In Camas, stands will be located at Lacamas Center, 3300 N.E. Third Ave., Gunderson Les Schwab Tire Center, 2375 S.E. Eighth Ave., Safeway, 800 N.E. Third Ave., and Hilltop Market, 1408 N.E. Everett St.

With July 4 falling on a Friday this year, police and fire officials say they are anticipating an increase in call volume.

“I believe having it on any weekend, there is probably the chance of an upsurge,” he said. “We’ll put on extra crews for July 4. Our volunteers will have a brush rig, and our paid staff will also have a brush rig out.”

Nelson said the CPD is also prepared.

“We will have increased staffing on July 4, and our officers will be focused on patrolling our neighborhoods,” she said. “I would ask residents to please respect and follow our city ordinance.”