Fireworks issue smolders

Washougal councilors hear testimony but table decision

After a meeting that drew about two dozen people and lasted well into the night on Monday, Washougal leaders have decided to table the issue of restricting or possibly even banning personal fireworks within the city limits.
At Monday night’s Washougal City Council meeting, Washougal resident Diana Rogers said she loves fireworks, but she has to medicate her service dog for the Fourth of July holiday. As a service provider for veterans, she knows the loud noises of fireworks trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reactions.
Rogers said she favors a complete ban on the use of personal fireworks in Washougal.
“I’m worried about fire on my property,” she said.
Daniel Lyman, also of Washougal, favors leaving the current restrictions as is.
He and his relatives from Utah celebrated Independence Day with $2,000 in fireworks purchased from stands in Washougal.
Another Washougal resident, Susan Corbett, said the use of personal fireworks has gotten out of control with them being lit until 3 a.m.
“There is a fire danger,” she said. “I’m not against fireworks, but something needs to be done.”
And Susan Chambers, also of Washougal, said she also favors a total ban on the use of personal fireworks in Washougal.
She said her husband, a Vietnam veteran, has PTSD.
“He fought for your right to set off fireworks,” Chambers said.
She tranquilizes their dog for the July 4 holiday, and picks up a garbage bag full of fireworks the next day.
“Go to the Port and have a community event,” Chambers said. “We’ve got to stop this craziness.”
City Councilman David Shoemaker said he grew up on a military post where fireworks could be shot on a parade field during certain hours.
“It was a controlled environment,” he said, adding later that “a ban would significantly reduce the problem.”
Councilman Paul Greenlee said the city does not have the resources to enforce the current fireworks restrictions.
Councilwoman Michelle Wagner said discussions about the potential of additional restrictions or a complete ban on the use of personal fireworks in Washougal has been a rushed process.
She favors putting the issue on the ballot, because it is a contentious issue.
“I will not support a ban until I hear from all citizens of Washougal,” Wagner said.
The City Council unanimously voted to discuss the fireworks issue further at a future workshop.
Currently in the city limits of Washougal, personal fireworks can be purchased from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., July 2 through July 4, and from noon to 11 p.m., Dec. 29 through Dec. 31.
Personal fireworks can be discharged in Washougal from 9 a.m. to midnight, July 4, and from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Dec. 31.
Options that the Council is considering include a complete ban on personal fireworks use, further limiting the time period during which personal fireworks can be used and/or allowing only “safe and sane” fireworks to be used.
“Safe and sane” fireworks are those that are not projectile or explosive. They include fountains, sparklers, smoke balls, snake-type and ground-spinning fireworks, pinwheels, most novelty fireworks, toy-trick noisemakers and some crackling items — basically anything that does not leave the ground.
Fireworks, such as rockets, aerial missiles and spinners and roman candle-types, are not considered “safe and sane.”
Changes to fireworks restrictions must be made 365 days prior to becoming effective, according to Washington State law.