SJI Fire Chief: celebrate Independence Day with safety in mind

4th of July Fireworks - Journal file photo
4th of July Fireworks
— image credit: Journal file photo

The Fourth of July is a time when we all celebrate our nation’s heritage.

Many of us choose to include fireworks as a part of that celebration. A little common sense will keep the celebration from becoming a tragedy.

Rather than conducting your own fireworks display, consider attending one of the professional pyrotechnics displays planned throughout San Juan County.  The show is great and you get a chance to visit with your neighbors.

Please remember that in 2012, a voter-approved San Juan County referendum takes effect that will limit fireworks displays to those presented by state-licensed professional pyrotechnicians.

However, this Fourth of July, the responsibility is upon each of us to keep our beautiful islands safe during the celebration of our nation’s independence.

If you choose to set off your own fireworks, use only State Fire Marshal-approved devices. The use of fireworks in San Juan County is limited by County Code to the hours of 9 a.m. to midnight on the Fourth of July.

Fireworks cannot legally be sold in San Juan County. So, if someone offers to sell fireworks to you, chances are that what they’re offering is unsafe.

If you choose to purchase fireworks, temporary stands are now open in several towns on the mainland. Because tribal fireworks stands are within sovereign nations, they are not subject to the state fire marshal’s regulations. As a result, they can offer products that do not meet the state’s safety standards.

Anything that flies or explodes is not safe, and is illegal outside of reservation lands. The Washington State Patrol has announced that they will be watching for fireworks in the ferry lanes at the Anacortes terminal. They recommend that any legal fireworks be kept in plain sight, so that they can inspect them with a minimum of interruption to you and your travels.

If you include State Fire Marshal-approved fireworks in your celebration, remember to have a source of water close at hand; never allow fireworks to be used without adult supervision; do not attempt to re-light a “dud”; stay clear of any dry grass or brush, and; soak all used and “dud” fireworks in a bucket of water afterwards.

Please remember that pets and wildlife can be spooked by the sounds of fireworks. If you have any four-legged family members, be sure that they are indoors or secured in a safe enclosure while fireworks are recreating “the rockets’ red glare and the bombs bursting in air”.


— By Chief Steve Marler of San Juan Island Fire Department


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