Tips to staying safe while using fireworks
The patchy fireworks laws in the Tri-Cities can make it tough on police and fire crews during the Fourth of July.
If people are careful and considerate of their neighbors, the problems should be minimal. But last year, recently retired Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger described the Tri-Cities as a “war zone” on July 4.
Let’s not repeat that.
That means being safe, smart and following the rules. If you live in Kennewick, Prosser, Connell or unincorporated Franklin County, personal fireworks are banned.
But certain types of fireworks are allowed in Richland, Pasco, Benton City, West Richland and unincorporated Benton County, and this means there will be popping and cracking and dogs cowering throughout the night.
In Pasco, especially, city officials are paying close attention because they are in the second of a two-year experiment allowing residents to set off non-aerial, personal fireworks.
Backyard fireworks used to be banned in Pasco, but it was a difficult law to enforce so city officials decided to allow residents to light up specific, “safe-and-sane” fireworks.
The idea is that it will make it easier for police to focus on people setting off the illegal kind that fly into the air. This is the year that could determine if the new law will continue. It all depends on how the night goes.
Pasco police say this July 4 they plan on being more forceful.
Capt. Jeff Harpster told the Tri-City Herald that last year was the “education year” and this year is the “enforcement year.” Pasco police plan to have specific fireworks-related patrols that will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks.
In addition, fireworks in Pasco, Richland and West Richland are supposed to stop being set off at midnight on July 4, which didn’t happen last year. Typically the noise and celebrating tapers off around 11 p.m., but in 2018 fire crews were going hard until 2 or 2:30 a.m.
The Fourth of July is a fun holiday, but it can be an annoying one for neighbors trying to sleep, and a dangerous one if people aren’t careful – fireworks and the area’s dry grasses are a terrible combination.
In Kennewick, the launch site for the fireworks is changing once again. For years, fireworks were set off on a barge in the Columbia River, but that changed last year when the Tidewater barging company sold the barge, and nothing comparable could be found to replace it.
So the blast-off site was moved to the shore on the east end of Columbia Park. This year, however, it will be at the Columbia Park Golf Links Driving Range, and organizers say it will give spectators a better view.
The new launch site also will have a safety buffer zone to prevent accidents and injuries. We hope this new location will be a hit with fans who make the River of Fire Festival a part of their holiday celebration.
Attending a professional fireworks show in Kennewick or at Gesa Stadium in Pasco are the best ways to enjoy the Fourth of July.