Chief Gary Meek noted that we are experiencing unprecedented heat and dry conditions in Snohomish County. He echoed other fire officials in the region by encouraging everyone to go to a professional fireworks show instead of shooting fireworks on their own. He expects many calls related to fireworks and expects District 7 fire crews to be stretched over the weekend.
He noted that while fireworks stands started selling on Sunday, the only time that fireworks can legally be set off is Saturday, July 4 from 9am to midnight.
With the extremely dry conditions, there is an extreme danger of grass, shrubs or trees igniting if embers from fireworks land on them. He recommended that homeowners take the following actions between now and the Fourth of July:
- Remove any fire source from 3 to 5 feet from your house.
- Thin the vegetation up to 30 feet from your house.
- Clean your gutters of any debris, including needles, leaves, cones, etc.
- Move firewood away from your house.
- Be sure that your smoke alarms are in good working order.
- On July 4, wet down your roof.
- Before the fourth, water your lawn and other plants in your landscape well. Keeping them moist will help your plants to resist catching on fire.
- Review your evacuation plan with your family. Everyone in your family should know how they are getting out of your house and where they will meet outside of the house. Also, have an escape plan to leave your neighborhood should you need to evacuate. This plan should have two routes as options for your escape.
- Be ready to defend your home. Have tools available such as shovel, rake, or saw. Also have buckets full of water and a charged (faucet open) hose (or hoses) ready to douse small fires. A fire extinguisher is also a good idea.
Take a “fire wise” approach to protecting your home from wildfires. For more information on fire wise, go to http://www.firewise.org.
Sergeant Ian Huri, from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office’s Office of Neighborhoods, also pointed out that during the Fourth of July holiday 911 agencies like SNOPAC AND SNOCOM in Snohomish County are often inundated with calls for all kinds of emergencies. While the Sheriff’s Office tries to be responsive to all calls, it is limited in its manpower resources.
911 calls are triaged in priority with threats to human life taking top priority. Next in priority come threats to property; and then come calls about infractions. Sgt. Huri pointed out that in the case of a fireworks call if the people are safe and structures are safe, deputies will respond to more serious calls such are assaults and DUI’s first. On the day of July 4, complaints about noise will be the lowest priority.
Sgt. Huri advised to be patient when you call about fireworks. He also suggested to be specific about the situation that you are reporting and to “articulate your real concerns.” Be truthful, do not exaggerate! You lose credibility with responding deputies if they find that the situation is not what has been reported through 911. Risk to human life or to property will get attention. For example, if kids are shooting fireworks in the street and you have seen close calls in cars hitting them, then that is worth a call. Or, you hear a loud explosion that rattled your house, dishes, and windows, that is worth a call. Or you hear someone yelling for help or crying out in pain, call 911.
The following fireworks activities are illegal:
- Fireworks such as M-80’s, bottle rockets, firecrackers, any firework on a stick, sparkler bombs (bundling several sparklers together are considered to be improvised explosive devices- IED- and is a felony).
- Setting off fireworks in a public street or sidewalk.
- Setting off fireworks on private property without permission.
- Setting off fireworks on school property.
Washington State Patrol:
Snohomish County Fire Marshal: