Tri-Cities fire chiefs urged the public Thursday to be cautious handling fireworks over the holiday weekend as extreme hot temperatures continue to scorch the area.
Chiefs from Benton Fire 1, Benton Fire 4, Kennewick and Richland met to discuss ways to prepare their firefighters for the Fourth of July and inform the public how to avoid igniting larger brush fires.
Recent red flag warnings issued in Richland could make things more difficult.
Lonnie Click, chief at Benton Fire District 1, said an increase in wind speed of 10 to 12 miles per hour could have a large impact on any fires that do break out.
“If the fire occurs in the right place, it could be a very significant event for us,” Click said.
Neil Hines, Kennewick’s fire operations chief, asks residents to keep proper fireworks safety techniques in mind, which includes being mindful of location. He recommends staying clear of extra-dry areas or any place where fires start easily.
“People light them off too close to natural vegetation,” Hines said.
People should also be mindful of how to handle “duds,” Hines said. If a firework doesn’t ignite, don’t touch it for at least 30 minutes.
If a fire or any damage occurs in the area, those responsible could face the consequences.
“They can be charged and held accountable,” Click said.
It’s also important to remember that fireworks sales are only permitted in Richland and West Richland, and those fireworks can’t be used in Kennewick, Pasco or any other part of Franklin County.
Residents in the legal areas may still prefer to take advantage of the community fireworks shows, said Tom Huntington, Richland’s chief.
As an example, one family decided to skip a personal neighborhood fireworks show and save the money for something else, Huntington said.
“They were actually able to take that money and go on vacation with it,” he said.
More information on fireworks safety and injury prevention can be found at wsp.wa.gov/fire/fireworks.htm