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Pasco City Council lifts long-time fireworks ban; here's what's now allowed

At a city council meeting on Monday evening, council members approved a new ordinance unanimously that would allow the sale, and use, of fireworks within the city limits.

PASCO, Wash. – Pasco families are looking forward to lighting fireworks this Fourth of July, after city council passed an ordinance Monday night, reversing the longtime ban.

"Are you excited to do fireworks Madison?" said Samantha Hall, a Pasco resident.

Hall said she's looking forward to spending Fourth of July at home this year with family and friends.

"I'm mostly excited for her because we'll be able to do ground effect things and sparklers,” Hall said about her 3-year-old daughter. “Come ‘on Fourth of July? Fireworks!"

For the first time in 22 years neighbors in Pasco can use personal fireworks.

"Laws get made in the past that need to be revisited later down the line,” said Sgt. Scott Warren of the Pasco Police. “Is it still effective? Is it working? Can we change it to make it better?"

Pasco police brought the old ordinance to city council's attention, explaining it was doing more harm than good.

"We were chasing call after call," Warren said.

During the Fourth of July holiday, Police said they were pushed to the limit.

"People were calling about sparklers, anything on the ground making noises, etc.,” Warren explained. “We only have a certain number of officers working the road, so you get to one, you can't get to the other—it was overwhelming."

Use of personal fireworks has been prohibited within City limits since 1996. Since that time, the City has grown and many areas of fire concern, such as open fields, are now developed.

Additionally, city officials said enforcement of a total fireworks ban has been difficult due to limited resources and prioritization.

Given these factors, Fire and Police staff recommended lifting the personal fireworks ban and moving to state standards.

“This new ordinance is a pragmatic approach to current attitudes about fireworks that balances safety and enforcement,” said Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins.

The new ordinance allows Pasco families to use certified "safe and sane" fireworks, but it doesn't mean anything goes.

"Roman candles, mortar tubes, anything that goes up in the air is going to be illegal,” Warren said. “If you're using those, you still will be getting a visit from one of us."

Here's what you need to know; highlights of the new ordinance include:

  1. Allowing the sale and use of consumer fireworks limited to cone/cylindrical fountains, spinners, wheels, smoke devices, sparklers, and novelties as defined by RCW 70.77.136.
  2. Persons under the age of 16 may not possess, use, discharge or transport consumer fireworks except under supervision of an adult (18 or older).
  3. Restrictions on where consumer fireworks may be discharged.
  4. Restricts sale of consumer fireworks to commercially zoned properties.
  5. Restricts dates and times of sale. (June 28 - July 5, December 31 - January 1)
  6. Establishes licensing requirements, penalties and safety considerations.

"The biggest thing I want people to understand is just use common sense,” Warren said. “If you don't know the law, you can't use that as an excuse if you get caught with an aerial."

Police said this new ordinance will help alleviate pressure to put out sparklers and instead allow law enforcement to put out larger problems.

The selling of certain fireworks would be allowed within city limits as soon as this June.

Grigg's Hardware is planning on being a vendor of fireworks within Pasco.

The City will be publicizing more on the new fireworks standards in the run-up to the Fourth of July; the approved ordinance is online at: http://bit.ly/PascoFireworks.

Richland and West Richland already allow fireworks, but Kennewick city officials said they stand behind banning fireworks within their city limits.

“We encourage families to come to the fireworks show at Columbia Park to enjoy a safe event,” said Evelyn Lusignan, Public Relations and Government Affairs Director.

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