Clark County Council sets Dec. 1 public hearing on new fireworks restrictions


The proposed change would make fireworks that fly or travel along the ground illegal as of July, 2022

CLARK COUNTY — The Clark County Council has set Dec. 1, 2020 at 10 a.m. to for a public hearing and possible vote on new fireworks regulations.

Those rules, first proposed at a work session held Oct. 21, would limit legal fireworks in unincorporated Clark County to those labeled “Safe and Sane.”

Private sales of fireworks that fly could be banned in Clark County starting in 2022 if the council votes to approve new rules in December. Photo by Mike Schultz
Private sales of fireworks that fly could be banned in Clark County starting in 2022 if the council votes to approve new rules in December. Photo by Mike Schultz

Safe and Sane fireworks are limited to anything that doesn’t travel more than a foot in the air, or six feet along the ground, essentially eliminating mortars, roman candles, and some kinds of fountains.

Councilor Julie Olson has been the primary driver behind new rules on fireworks in Clark County, especially after nearly losing her own home to a fire in 2018 when a stray firework sparked bushes alongside the house.

Olson, along with Councilors John Blom and Temple Lentz indicated in that October work session they were open to potentially voting in favor of new restrictions.

“I was really hopeful that the changes that we made would reduce the number of calls and frustrated constituents, but it hasn’t,” said Blom. “It’s gone up every year, even within the city and from the constituents that are in my district inside the city limits.”

The Clark County Fire Marshal’s office says they received 404 fireworks noise complaints this past July, compared with 325 in 2019, and 305 in 2018, but down from 555 in 2017.

County Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien and District 4 Councilor Gary Medvigy said they want to wait a while longer, since new restrictions on when fireworks could be sold or used only went into effect this past July.

“We need more time to let the public adjust,” Medvigy said last month. “This year was kind of a wash because of the pandemic.”

Area nonprofits are likely to be among the most vocal opponents of any new restrictions. The Hazel Dell Lions Club, for instance, said in 2018 that 80 percent of its yearly budget comes from the sale of fireworks. 

Still, supporters of the new rules said the nonprofits would have time to adjust, since any changes wouldn’t be in effect until July of 2022.

“It’ll take work, but they’ll have some time,” said Olson. “I think we could offer a full ban, which is what a lot of my constituents like, but this is a compromise.”

Several fireworks that are currently legal in unincorporated Clark County, such as mortars, shells, and Roman candles, could be illegal starting in 2022 if the council votes on new restrictions next month. Photo courtesy Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office
Several fireworks that are currently legal in unincorporated Clark County, such as mortars, shells, and Roman candles, could be illegal starting in 2022 if the council votes on new restrictions next month. Photo courtesy Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office

The city of Vancouver has had a full ban on fireworks since 2016, and several other Clark County cities have moved to reduce the number of days people can purchase and use them.

The council currently is holding its hearings virtually on WebEx. Anyone wishing to listen to the hearing on WebEx can call 1-408-418-9388 and enter the meeting access code 146-010-0695. 

CVTV also will cover the hearing and viewers can watch on Channel 23/323 or the CVTV website at www.cvtv.org.

Anyone wishing to submit written testimony for the hearing can submit their comment online at https://clark.wa.gov/councilors/clark-county-council-meetings. All written comments will be provided to the county councilors and read aloud during the public hearing.

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