Public safety officials want to remind Bellingham residents and visitors that all consumer fireworks are prohibited in the city for this year's Independence Day celebrations.
The Bellingham City Council adopted an ordinance to ban consumer fireworks within the city limits. The ordinance becomes effective June 18, 2014. Any person who violates the consumer fireworks ban will be subject to a civil infraction with a fine of up to $1,000. The minimum fine will be $250. Also, law enforcement and fire officials have the authority to immediately seize fireworks that are located within the city.
In addition, devices that some people call "fireworks" are actually illegal explosive devices that cannot legally be possessed anywhere in the state of Washington. Examples include M-80s or larger, cherry bombs and any improvised device such as a tennis ball bomb. Felony charges can be brought against people found guilty of possessing or discharging illegal explosives.
As in the past, education and enforcement activities are planned this year to make sure residents and visitors are aware of the consumer fireworks ban.
Bellingham Fire and Police departments are planning education and enforcement activities to ensure a safe and legal Independence Day in our city.
From June 28 through July 5, emphasis patrol teams of police officers and fire inspectors will circulate in neighborhoods, responding to fireworks-related 911 calls, providing education about the Bellingham fireworks ban, and taking enforcement action for violations.
We expect our emphasis patrol teams to make a difference in the quantity of fireworks and illegal devices being used. Please remember, even with teams roving in our neighborhoods we simply cannot be everywhere at once.
Please call 911 if you observe violations of the consumer fireworks ban. This helps us know where the problems are and we can then send our enforcement teams to the most troublesome locations. It also allows us to collect information to use for future education and enforcement efforts.
More details about current fireworks regulations can be found in Bellingham Municipal Code 10.24.130, accessible via the city website at cob.org.
Many community events are planned throughout the region to celebrate Independence Day.
In Bellingham, the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and Industry has partnered with Haggen Food and Pharmacy to provide a community fireworks display and festival with vendor and craft booths, live bands and a beer garden. The celebration is from 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. at Zuanich Point Park, with fireworks set to go off at approximately 10:15 p.m.
We encourage community members to take advantage of this event or other opportunities to celebrate our nation's independence and enjoy large, legal fireworks displays.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation. We look forward to a safe and legal 2014 Independence Day!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Bellingham Fire Marshal Jason Napier and Bellingham Police Lieutenant Bob Vander Yacht work together to coordinate fireworks enforcement and education activities for the City of Bellingham. This is one of a series of monthly Civic Agenda reports The Bellingham Herald invited Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville to provide to share updates about City of Bellingham issues and projects. She invites citizens to contact her at 360-778-8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.