Firework use will be limited in unincorporated Pierce County starting in 2023

PIERCE COUNTY, WA — Starting in 2023 the discharge of fireworks in Pierce County’s unincorporated areas will be restricted to July 4 and Dec. 31 only. That’s according to new legislation passed this week by the Pierce County Council.

Additionally, starting in 2023 the Pierce County Fire Marshal will have the authority, in consultation with the Pierce County Executive, to temporarily ban fireworks if the conditions are unsafe for their use.

Fireworks are currently allowed in unincorporated Pierce County July 1-5.

Science will determine whether a ban is necessary to protect public safety due to unsafe conditions – mainly when high fire danger exists. This was a key element of ordinance 2021-79, a bi-partisan piece of legislation drafted by District 1 Councilmember Dave Morell and District 6 Councilmember Jani Hitchen.

“Using the ‘Fuel Moisture Content’ from six locations across Pierce County allows for a comprehensive measurement of fire danger and is a smart way to identify potential catastrophes that could result from firework use,” Hitchen said. “This scientific measurement takes the politics out of the decision and leaves the recommendation to the Fire Marshal who is the expert, alongside consultation with the Executive.”

Aware that firework consumers buy merchandise as soon as firework stands open, Councilmember Morell requested the Fire Marshal outline how soon before July 4 a ban could be issued. The Fire Marshal is expected to return to Council by April 2022 with an outline.

“This is a sensible and balanced ordinance that narrows the formula down to determine whether a ban is necessary and gives good science as to why it’s being done,” Morell said. “Yes, it is taking away days when fireworks could be used, but by adding a day in December, we are increasing the opportunity for when nonprofits can sell fireworks.”

Morell noted there is minimal likelihood that a temporary ban on fireworks would be issued in December due to conditions, making it possible for Pierce County families to use fireworks safely in unincorporated areas.

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