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What you need to know if setting off fireworks in the Ferndale area

2015 fireworks demonstration - Photo courtesy NW Pyrotechnics Association

Officials from multiple fire safety agencies are appealing to those planning on using fireworks to celebrate Independence Day to be aware which fireworks are legal and to limit their use only during permitted times.

In unincorporated areas of Whatcom County, consumer fireworks can be legally used or discharged only on the following schedule.

  • July 3rd: 6pm until 11pm
  • July 4th: 6pm until 12am midnight
  • July 5th: 6pm until 11pm

Within the City of Ferndale, consumer fireworks can be legally used or discharged only on July 4th between 9am and 12am midnight.

Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) encourages Washingtonians to enjoy consumer fireworks in a safe and responsible way by following a few simple tips.

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  • Be Prepared – Buy only legal fireworks, have water nearby while lighting and keep pets indoors.
  • Be Safe – Only adults should light fireworks. Never light fireworks in your hand and never use them indoors. Always light one firework at a time.
  • Be Responsible – Clean up fireworks debris and soak used fireworks with water. Keep matches and lighters away from children.

Consumer fireworks purchased at stands outside the Lummi Reservation have been inspected and approved by the Whatcom County and the stand operators are licensed by the state.

Many fireworks purchased from reservation stands are illegal to possess or use off-reservation. They include:

  • Fire Crackers
  • Bottle Rockets
  • Missile type rockets with fins
  • Fireworks with sticks or fins that fly
  • Reloadable mortar shells larger than 1-¾” in diameter

Explosive devices such as M-80’s, M-100’s, tennis ball bombs and pipe bombs are considered explosive devices and are illegal everywhere. Possession or use of these items can result in criminal charges.

The following graphics are provide by the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office.

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The Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office also warns that even though sky lanterns are NOT a firework they are regulated by the State and County fire code. Sky lanterns are only allowed to be lit as long as they are tethered (ie. by kite string, twine, etc.) and controlled at all times. Any fire started by a sky lantern can result in civil and criminal charges.

Possession or use of illegal fireworks can result in both civil and criminal penalties. Any modification of a firework is considered making an improvised explosive device and is a felony. Any fire started from fireworks or explosives is termed “reckless burning” which can result in civil and criminal penalties.

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The SFMO advises residents to be aware of how to legally purchase consumer fireworks online:

  • The fireworks may only be delivered to the consumer at a licensed consumer fireworks retail sales facility during the legally authorized time periods. 
  • The fireworks for sale must be legally allowed to be purchased in Washington and the sale, possession, and discharge is allowed in the jurisdiction where the sale is occurring.
  • All advertisements for the sale of fireworks will contain the license number and expiration date of the licensee.
  • The purchase or receipt of fireworks must be through a Washington licensed fireworks retailer or wholesaler.

Fireworks cannot be legally purchased over the internet and shipped to a residence or picked up in any other manner than stated above according to the SFMO.

As of the publication of this story there were not any local burn bans in place but conditions can change quickly. The burn ban status can be monitored at the Whatcom County Fire Marshal website and also at the Whatcom County Fire District 7 website or by calling the Whatcom County Fire Marshal burn ban status hotline at 360-778-5903.

fire started by a single fireworks in vacant lot at ariel ct 2016-07-03 2300
Outdoor fire started by fireworks in a vacant lot on Ariel Court (July 3, 2016). Video: My Ferndale News

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