Clark County firework laws: What you need to know

Michael McCormic, Jr.
ClarkCountyToday.com

Michael McCormic, Jr.
Michael McCormic, Jr.

VANCOUVER — This Independence Day will be the first under a new set of firework regulations in the City of Vancouver.

As of October 2016, there is a zero-tolerance policy towards the use of fireworks within city limits of Vancouver. Elsewhere in Clark County, differing sets of laws limit the time, place, and type of fireworks that are appropriate for use.

Currently, a boundary drawn at 219th St. separates two areas of differing restrictions on firework use on unincorporated county land. Areas within city limits of incorporated cities are subject to city regulations when it comes to fireworks.

While the Vancouver city-wide firework ban is meant to keep the city residents safe as Vancouver continues to grow, local firework businesses are feeling the repercussions. Photo by Mike Schultz
While the Vancouver city-wide firework ban is meant to keep the city residents safe as Vancouver continues to grow, local firework businesses are feeling the repercussions. Photo by Mike Schultz

Residents of unincorporated Clark County areas that fall south of the 219th border are permitted to discharge approved fireworks only on July 4th from 9 a.m. to midnight. Those north of 219th may begin setting off fireworks on June 28 from noon-11 p.m. and may continue to do so from June 29 through July 3 between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., and on July 4 from 9 a.m. to midnight.

The city of Battle Ground follows the same time constraints as the rest of North County, except for the addition of an extra day of firework discharge on July 5 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Chris Drone, the fire marshal for Battle Ground and Fire District 3, explains the current jumble of firework regulations across the county, stating, “There’s a lot of different pockets in Clark County that have different rules and regulations — different ordinances. City of Battle Ground has the least restrictive of those that’s allowed by Washington state in general.”

Both Yacolt and Ridgefield also permit firework use on the 5th, but unlike Battle Ground, do not permit discharges after 9 p.m. on that day.

Fire Marshal Drone recommends that those unsure of the regulations in their area visit the Clark County official fireworks page (https://www.clark.wa.gov/community-development/fireworks), where residents can enter their address in the search bar to see the exact firework laws they are obligated to follow.

Because this is the first Independence Day during which Vancouver residents will be subject to the total firework ban, Vancouver law enforcement is emphasizing their zero-tolerance policy for the illegal use of such ordinances. As such, patrols within city limits are expected to focus heavily on locating areas of unlawful pyrotechnic activity, confiscating any fireworks found within city limits, and issuing fines to those participating in such activities. The Clark County website explains that the maximum penalty for illegal firework possession and use is a fine of $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail.

While the city-wide firework ban is meant to keep the city residents safe as Vancouver continues to grow, local firework businesses are feeling the repercussions.

Frank McKoy, owner of Blackjack Fireworks in Vancouver, says, “Sales will be down from at least the Clark County area.” He goes on to explain how some Vancouver residents can still enjoy the use of fireworks despite the current firework ban. “Down in the city, people can still actually come and buy and bring it out to the county and get permission from a landowner to go out and light it off themselves.”

And while all fireworks may be illegal within Vancouver city limits, it is important for residents to know which types of explosives are banned throughout the county.

“My big push this season is to make people aware of what is not legal,” explains Fire Marshal Drone. Because the list of legal fireworks is much longer than the list of illegal fireworks, Drone prefers to give the shorter list when possible.  “Bottle rockets, missiles, anything on a stick, of course M-80s, things like that, and any improvised type of firework — those are illegal and it can be a misdemeanour or felony to have those in your possession.”

As of October 2016, there is a zero-tolerance policy towards the use of fireworks within city limits of Vancouver. Elsewhere in Clark County, differing sets of laws limit the time, place, and type of fireworks that are appropriate for use. Photo by Mike Schultz
As of October 2016, there is a zero-tolerance policy towards the use of fireworks within city limits of Vancouver. Elsewhere in Clark County, differing sets of laws limit the time, place, and type of fireworks that are appropriate for use. Photo by Mike Schultz

Above all else, safety is the number one concern for law enforcement and fire services in the area.

Among Drone’s recommendations for safe firework discharge, having a flat, noncombustible launch surface, following instructions on the firework labels, minding wind and weather, and preparing with sprinklers and buckets of water are perhaps the most effective. Properly disposing of expended fireworks is also incredibly important.

In addition, Drone advises residents with pets to keep their pets inside.

“Over the 4th of July, it’s the biggest time of the year for people to file lost pet complaints,” he says.

If residents witness a violation of firework regulations in their area, they are encouraged to call the law enforcement non-emergency number, 3-1-1.

Camas/Washougal regulations

The sales/purchase and discharge of consumer fireworks is permitted in Camas and Washougal as follows:

Camas fireworks sales/purchase

  • July 2-4: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.  
  • July 5:  9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Dec. 29-31: Noon to 11 p.m.

Camas fireworks discharge

  • July 2:  NOT ALLOWED
  • July 3: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • July 4:  9 a.m. to midnight
  • July 5:  NOT ALLOWED
  • Dec 31:   6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Washougal fireworks sales/purchase

  • July 2-4: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.  
  • Dec. 29-31: Noon to 11:00 p.m.

Washougal fireworks discharge

  • July 2-3:  NOT ALLOWED
  • July 4:  9 a.m. to midnight
  • Dec 31: 6 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
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