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City Urges Fireworks Safety as Independence Day Nears

Mercer Island is one of a few cities that allow the discharge of fireworks on July 4.

City Urges Fireworks Safety as Independence Day Nears

The is reminding residents of local restrictions on the legal use of fireworks on Mercer Island as the July 4 Independence Day holiday approaches.

According to a  press release, Islanders should only use "consumer fireworks" as defined by the  State Fire Marshal and Revised Code of Washington ( RCW 70.77), which are allowed and are authorized only if they are sold from a Washington State licensed stand.  

On Mercer Island, one of the only licensed fireworks stands, operated by the , will open June 27 in the parking lit in Town Center. Deputy Fire Chief Steve Heitman said although the fireworks pose a risk, there have not been any significant fireworks-related incidents reported to authorities on Mercer Island over the past several years.

"Our concern is that every using fireworks practices a safe celebration, he said."Even though the fireworks are labeled as 'safe and sane' fireworks, it still has the potential to be dangerous."

Mercer Island remains one of a handful of urban areas where fireworks are legal. According to  Mercer Island City Code (MICC 8.35), "the discharge of legal 'safe and sane' fireworks is allowable one day only, July 4, from 11:00am to 11:00pm." The press release also states that residents that fireworks are prohibited in public parks and on school district properties, as outlined in  MICC 9.30.070.
Click  here for guidelines on firework purchasing and safe discharging of fireworks and pyrotechnics. 

Allowed "consumer fireworks" are defined as:

  • Sparklers
  • Cones
  • Fountains
  • Ground spinners
  • Helicopters
  • Wheels
  • Small Roman Candles (no more than 20 grams of pyrotechnic composition)
  • Mine shells (no more than 40 grams of powder)
  • Smoke devices ( WAC 212-17)

Prohibited items include:

  • Firecrackers
  • Salutes
  • Rockets
  • Chasers
  • Aerial bombs
  • Other items exceeding the Washington State permitted categories for size & pyrotechnic material amounts.

As part of a "Celebrate Safety Campaign", the State Fire Marshal's office urges all citizens to stay safe by following these precautions when using fireworks:

Before you light fireworks: "Be Prepared!" Purchase only legal fireworks, available at approved stands. Talk with family members and guests about the laws for your area. Place pets indoors as they may become frightened. Keep a bucket of water nearby in which to place all used fireworks. Have a water hose or fire extinguisher nearby to put out stray sparks. Clear a level area away from things that can burn. Know the emergency number to call for your area, your address/location, and basic first aid. Teach your children to "stop, drop, and roll" if their clothes catch on fire.

When lighting fireworks: "Be Safe!" Set family boundaries. Have a designated adult light all fireworks. Do not allow young children to light fireworks. Use eye protection, wear safety goggles. Light one at a time, move away quickly, and keep at a safe distance until the display is finished. Use only outdoors, away from anything that can burn. To prevent injuries, never throw fireworks and never hold fireworks in your hand.

After you finish: "Be Responsible!" Clean up all debris when finished. Duds can be dangerous; if a device does not light or fire, an adult should wait at least fifteen minutes, approach it carefully, and place it in a bucket of water. Be sure all unused fireworks, matches and lighters are out of the sight and reach of children.

For additional information, visit the Washington State Patrol/Fire Marshall's  website which includes a safety video. For information specific to Mercer Island, contact the Mercer Island Fire Department at 206-275-7607.

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