Year 2012 was the last residents of Olympia were able to legally purchase and set off their own fireworks. In 2013, a ban on consumer fireworks will take place. This ban, voted on in the November 2011 ballot, states that “Consumer fireworks shall not be sold or discharged in the city.”
In Washington, firecrackers, missiles, and bottle rockets are legal only on American Indian reservations. M-80’s, Improvised Explosive Devices, and altered fireworks are illegal throughout the state. Recently, many cities including Olympia have changed the law in their city to outlaw consumer fireworks.
“The city of Olympia ban would include fountains, aerial spinners, roman candles, parachutes, ground spinners, reloadable mortars, smoke devices, wheels, sparklers, mines, shells, and cakes,” said Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Dan Johnson.
Smaller, novelty items that can be bought in grocery stores would still be allowed.
Lacey’s fireworks ban took place in 2007 and Tumwater may follow soon with the ban on the ballot this year.
Fireworks can oftentimes startle those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some veterans with PTSD feel discomfort when they hear the sudden loud noise that fireworks make. The fireworks can trigger distressing memories.
Many people are in favor of the ban, including student Hannah Powers. She said the noises of fireworks often cause people’s animals to “freak” and run away.
Powers said it will also be hard to enforce the law.
“The ban will be effective as long as it’s properly enforced, but, for example, many people still buy and use illegal fireworks from the reservations. What will stop them here?” she said.
Fire Marshal Rob Bradley said, “At this point, we don’t have the resources to go out and enforce the use of fireworks.”
Bradley said it’s too early to know exactly what the department plans to do as far as enforcing this ban, but the City of Olympia is considering sending police officers and firefighters out to issue citations and confiscate the fireworks. “It’s very expensive though, because they will have to pay overtime to the police officers and firefighters,” said Bradley.
Bradley said the police chief plans to educate the public about this ban and put out press releases and public service announcements.
“The reason I think people voted for it is because they’re tired of the noise. Anyone who has animals knows how it freaks them out; we’ve had a few pretty major fires related to fireworks too,” said Bradley.
“Some members of the public think it’s their right to do fireworks, and it takes away from business. I personally think fireworks should be handled by professionals, and that this is the right thing to do,” he said.
Student Oscar McNamara also is in favor of the ban because of the poor working conditions of those who make fireworks. However, he said, “All the ban does is give the reservations more business.”
Student Jennifer Harper said banning fireworks is changing a tradition.
Harper said, “I don’t think that fireworks have been that much of an issue for people to take such a drastic measure as banning all of them, especially since it only happens once or twice a year.”
Amelia Thompson said banning fireworks is not beneficial to our economy.
“With the economy so down right now, we should be encouraging spending, and fireworks are a huge industry that put money back into the state of Washington,” said Thompson.
Firework displays for public viewing will still take place after the ban goes into effect.