Submitted by the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office
The Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office wants to remind all County residents to celebrate safely during the Independence Day holiday. If you are planning on using your own fireworks, use only legal consumer fireworks and only during permitted times.
Whatcom County only allows consumer fireworks to be discharged during the following dates and times:
• July 3rd: 6:00 PM until 11:00 PM
• July 4th: 6:00 PM until 12:00 midnight
• July 5th: 6:00 PM until 11:00 PM
Remember to check with your fire or law enforcement officials if you live within a city limits, as each jurisdiction has different regulations on the use of fireworks.
So which fireworks are legal? Fireworks purchased at stands in unincorporated Whatcom County are permitted by Whatcom County and the State of Washington. If you purchase fireworks from a reservation stand, those items must remain on the reservation.
It is also illegal to modify a legal firework in any way. The following items are illegal to possess or use off-reservation: Fire crackers, bottle rockets, missile type rockets with fins, fireworks with sticks or fins that fly, and reloadable mortar shells larger than 1 ¾” in diameter.
Additionally, explosive devices such as M-80’s, M-100’s, Tennis ball bombs, and pipe bombs are illegal everywhere and are considered an explosive device. Possession or use of these items can result in criminal charges.
How about sky lanterns? Sky lanterns are not a firework, but are regulated by the State and County fire code. Sky lanterns are only allowed to be lit as long as they are tethered (i.e. kite string, twine, etc.) and controlled at all times. Any fire started by a sky lantern may be charged both civilly and criminally.
Any possession or use of illegal fireworks can result in both civil and criminal penalties, including the cost of the fire department extinguishing any fire caused by fireworks.
You should only call 911 to report fires, injuries, or circumstances immediately hazardous to life or property. Many legal fireworks are quite loud and are often mistaken for illegal fireworks, resulting in many unwarranted 911 phone calls each year that draw law enforcement and fire departments away from true emergencies.
Visit the Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office website for more information on fireworks (http://www.whatcomcounty.us/669/Fireworks), as well as outdoor burning (http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/690/Outdoor-Burning).