Council to hear from the public on changes to Clark County fireworks regulations

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.

This image was taken from a video posted on the Clark County website that promotes safety when using fireworks. You can watch the full video here: https://www.clark.wa.gov/community-development/fireworks
This image was taken from a video posted on the Clark County website that promotes safety when using fireworks. You can watch the full video here: https://www.clark.wa.gov/community-development/fireworks

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.

Clark County councilors discuss potential changes to county fireworks regulations during a work session at the Public Service Center in Vancouver last month. Photo by Eric Schwartz
Clark County councilors discuss potential changes to county fireworks regulations during a work session at the Public Service Center in Vancouver last month. Photo by Eric Schwartz

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.

These graphs show the overall results of a survey of citizens focused on fireworks in Clark County.
These graphs show the overall results of a survey of citizens focused on fireworks in Clark County.
These graphs show the overall results of a survey of citizens focused on fireworks in Clark County.
These graphs show the overall results of a survey of citizens focused on fireworks in Clark County.

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.

This map provided by Clark County shows the regulations for fireworks in unincorporated areas of Clark County.
This map provided by Clark County shows the regulations for fireworks in unincorporated areas of Clark County.

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.

 

This document provided by Clark County shows current fireworks jurisdictions in jurisdictions throughout the area.
This document provided by Clark County shows current fireworks jurisdictions in jurisdictions throughout the area.

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:

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About The Author

Eric Schwartz arrives as a reporter at Clark County Today with nearly 15 years of experience as a journalist. He most recently served five years as editor of The Chronicle newspaper in Centralia. Prior to that, he was an assistant editor, reporter and intern at the newspaper. Schwartz graduated from Forks High School on the Olympic Peninsula before attending Centralia College and Eastern Washington University, where he was the editor-in-chief of the award-winning college newspaper, The Easterner, and received the Edmund J. Yarwood award as the top performer in his class. He covered sports through a fellowship at The Tri-City Herald before taking a full-time reporting job with The Chronicle in 2007. After three years as a reporter at The Chronicle, he traveled to Kalispell, MT, and worked as a crime, courts and emergency services reporter at The Daily Inter Lake, where he won two first-place awards for spot news coverage from the Montana Newspaper Publishers Association. In 2011, he returned to The Chronicle as the assistant editor before being promoted to editor in 2013. Under his leadership, The Chronicle was the recipient of several C.B. Blethen Memorial Awards for Distinguished Reporting, and the newspaper was twice given the General Excellence Award as the top performer in its category by the Society of Professional Journalists. Schwartz has also been the recipient of two C.B. Blethen Memorial Awards for his own reporting and has garnered additional individual awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. Most recently, he and his staff were honored with a Key Award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government for The Chronicle’s editorials and news coverage focused on transparency in county government.

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