County Councilors seem poised to limit sale of fireworks to four days and use to two days during Independence Day celebrations
VANCOUVER — The Clark County Council will hold a public hearing to discuss potential changes to county code governing the regulation of fireworks in unincorporated areas.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tue., June 5, in the councilors’ hearing room on the sixth floor of the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.
“Possible changes include restriction of dates of sales, modify dates for use, establish the ability for the Clark County Council to implement an emergency ban during extreme fire risk, and allow for fees to be implemented to offset enforcement costs,” according to a notice of public hearing published by the council.
If a recent work session is any indicator, the council could be poised to limit the number of days fireworks can be legally sold or ignited. Council Chair Marc Boldt said last month he’s leaning toward allowing four days for sales and two days for use during Independence Day celebrations.
The change could very well be accompanied by new fees at the point of sale that will help pay for additional enforcement of regulations by law enforcement and the Clark County Community Development Department, along with the ability for the fire marshal to call for an emergency ban on sale and use of fireworks similar to a burn ban.
Boldt said one goal of the potential changes will be to bring regulations in line through several local jurisdictions in order create more clarity for residents and retailers when it comes to following the law.
As it stands, cities throughout the county all have different guidelines for use. In Vancouver, fireworks are banned altogether. Elsewhere, allowable days for the discharge of fireworks currently range from one in Washougal, for example, to seven in other jurisdictions.
Battle Ground recently approved new regulations that mirror what has been discussed by the Clark County Council, and Boldt has told ClarkCountyToday.com that he believes other local governments will soon follow that direction if they haven’t already.
In Clark County, 219th Street currently acts as a dividing line when it comes to regulations for Independence Day fireworks. North of the line discharge is allowed June 28 through July 4. South of the road, discharge is
only allowed on July 4.
“Enforcement is just a nightmare,” Boldt said after a work session on the topic in early May. “People don’t know where to go. So if we can get some consistent things, especially the days you can shoot them off, we know regardless of where you’re at, the code enforcement is the same.”
Overall, the council seemed to be on the same page as Boldt, with Councilor Julie Olson being the notable exception and councilor John Blom absent from the work session.
Olson, whose own home was damaged from fire caused by fireworks last year, favored tighter regulations that would better respond to some of the concerns voiced by residents in a recent survey of thousands of people focused on the topic of fireworks. Fire danger, noise and garbage led a list of complaints from participants of the survey.
Clark County Neighborhood Program Coordinator Marilee McCall recently provided the results from the survey, which was taken by 7,628 residents, a number she said was larger than any survey ever conducted by the county.
It showed a county divided on the topic, with many opposing additional restrictions some feel would dampen residents’ ability to celebrate Independence Day.
Retailers and nonprofits have also expressed opposition to more onerous regulations, noting it will hurt fundraising and not necessarily correct the concerns of those opposed to expanded fireworks use.
More information concerning the upcoming public hearing can be obtained by calling Clark County Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway at (564) 397-4116.
Read the full story on last month’s work session here: