No Answer from Snoqualmie City Council about Proposed Amendment Banning Aerial Fireworks

It’s been six months since a fireworks-related fire destroyed a Snoqualmie Ridge home and there’s a chance the 4th of July may be a little quieter in Snoqualmie in coming years.

On Monday, January 12, 2015, the Snoqualmie City Council considered an amendment to the city’s Fireworks Ordinance.

The proposed ordinance amendment would change the type of consumer-grade fireworks that can be legally sold and discharged in the city – and ups the penalties attached to unlawful fireworks.

The January 12th council meeting yielded no answer [yet] to the big fireworks question. Some residents attended the meeting and addressed council members about the proposed ban on aerial (mortar) fireworks – many were opposed to it.

In the end, the council decided to send the proposed amendment back to the Public Safety Committee for a formal recommendation.

According to City Clerk, Jodi Warren,”Council moved to refer this back to committee and then bring to the full council for action on February 9th.”

Residents still wishing to comment on the proposed fireworks ordinance amendment can do so during public comment time at the January 26th and February 9th city council meetings (or by writing council members).

Snoqualmie City Council meetings start at 7PM in the council chambers at Snoqualmie City Hall.

No More Aerial Fireworks

If the amendment is approved by the city council, residents will no longer be able to discharge aerial (mortar) type fireworks, which are very common in the skies over Snoqualmie on the 4th of July.  Instead, the amended ordinance would only allow for ground-effect, consumer-grade fireworks.

Fine for Banned Fireworks Increases

The amended ordinance would also greatly increase fines for residents who discharge banned fireworks. The fine for possessing unlawful fireworks would increase from $125 per offense to $250. The unlawful discharge of banned fireworks would come with a hefty $750 fine.

In the July 4th 2014 Snoqualmie Ridge fire, a home on Fairway Ave sustained more than $700,000 damage, injured a firefighter and threatened a neighboring home.

The City of Snoqualmie stated that police and fire incidents have been sporadic over the past few years, but showed an increase in 2014.

Snoqualmie house fire on Fairway Ave, 7/4/14

Firefighters battle Snoqualmie house fire on Fairway Ave, 7/4/14. The fireworks-caused fire began on the cedar-shake roof.

Follwing the fire, the City Council and Public Safety committed received multiple requests from residents to ban all fireworks within the city limits. Some residents described the 4th of July in Snoqualmie as sounding like “a war zone.”

According to a city Q & A about the new fireworks ordinance amendment,  “The option of the proposed amendment to the fireworks ordinance was selected after careful consideration as it provided for the allowance for celebratory fireworks, a safer community, and an opportunity for groups to sell fireworks as fundraising events.”

If approved by the city council, the amended fireworks ordinance would apply to fireworks discharged only within the city limits of Snoqualmie and take effect one year from the date approved.

The Public Safety Committee also discussed a 4th of July public fireworks display, but currently there is no city budget for such a display. The committee suggested creating a July 4th Committee to fundraise to put on a fireworks show for residents.

Other area cities that ban fireworks include:

  • Bellevue
  • Burien
  • Carnation
  • Clyde Hill
  • Des Moines
  • Federal Way
  • Issaquah
  • Kenmore
  • Kirkland
  • Lake Forest Park
  • Newcastle
  • Redmond
  • Renton
  • Sammamish
  • SeaTac
  • Seattle
  • Shoreline
  • Tukwila
  • Woodinville
  • Yarrow Point

More information about the proposed Fireworks Ordinance amendment can be found on the City of Snoqualmie website.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Hugh johnson says

    The home owners have some culpability when they built with the wrong materials. Shake shingles should not be used in Snoqualmie under any circumstances. Sure they look nice, but they are a nightmare in the event of a wildland fire, and as shown in this case, fireworks. Had there been a large wildland fire in the area, driven by high winds, the roof on this and many other homes becomes kindling. And its not just roofs. A good municipal wildfire mitigation plan for anyone in the urban interface, as Snoqualmie is, should include defensible space, tree limbing, proper firewood stacking and other standard preventative methods. If this house had had tile, metal or asphalt shingles, this fire would likely have never occurred. So yes, change the fireworks laws, but also address homeowner responsibility for reducing fires from external sources such as wildland fire and fireworks. A wildland fire is only a matter of when, not if.

    • Laurie Henderson says

      I don’t know what the ROA requirements are on Fairway, but some areas of the Ridge require shake shingle roofs. I live in an area of the Ridge that requires them, which given the amount of wind we have up here and the amount of maintenance they require versus a typical roof I have always thought was ridiculous. The ROA requirements are another piece that needs to be addressed.

    • It doesn’t matter what you build your house out of, you be able to built it out of dry newspaper and not have your neighbor kids burn it due to their negligence. The fireworks ban shouldn’t be needed, but clearly kids aren’t responsible enough and it is.

      Were the kids that caused this ever identified? Seems clear the kids must have known what they did.

  2. Nancy Witt says

    We moved from Snoqualmie this summer…but we were there when that house burned. I wrote many times to the City of Snoqualmie, asking for a change in the law, plus better enforcement. In the ten years we lived in the Fairway area, the number of families shooting off mortar-type fireworks increased exponentially and yes, it did sound like a war-zone. Furthermore people disregarded the legal times. For us, the greatest challenge was our pets, especially our dogs. For many years, we simply gave up and went camping in the national forest, where fireworks are illegal, bringing our animals with us. But, since the fireworks went on before during and after the fourth, our animals still suffered. What about setting up community fireworks?

  3. James Hunter says

    My understanding, from a Snoqualmie City Council member, is that the house that burned was hit by fireworks that were already illegal in Snoqualmie–not by the sort of aerial fireworks that the proposed ban would prohibit. Assuming this is correct, the proposed ban seems to be based solely on aesthetics, rather than on public safety–see Nancy Witt’s comments, for example.

  4. Craig Kitterman says

    While I truly feel for the family who lost their home, there are a number of factors to consider in this decision. It was a freak accident – the first of its kind in recent years that I am aware of. A perfect storm of carelessness, an untreated cedar shake roof, and a family on vacation. A knee jerk reaction to outlaw fireworks – a widely enjoyed expression of the freedom we enjoy in this case would be analogous to banning cars in the city limits because of a single car accident.

  5. i’m with Craig on this one, I feel for the family that suffered the loss of their home. All the folks that moved to the ridge from the big cities west of the valley were enticed here for relaxed small town atmosphere, rules, and lifestyle, and now you want to change it into the exact uptight rule filled region you left. Welcome to the valley, we have bears that will eat your garbage, elk that cross the road, fireworks and gunshots. I recommend you adapt to your surroundings and put your trash out the morning it gets picked up, drive slow on 202 between snoqualmie and nb, and try to relax and enjoy life with your new neighbors and enjoy the 4th of July and New Years responsibly.

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