Fourth of July fire safety urged amid rising wildfire risks across North America

July 2, 2024

Fire marshal advises Oregonians to follow fire safety guidelines

The Oregon State Fire Marshal is urging all residents to be mindful of the hot weather and increased wildfire risk as the Fourth of July approaches.

With temperatures expected to be in the 90s, the potential for wildfires is significantly heightened, necessitating extra precautions.

Mariana Ruiz-Temple, the Oregon State Fire Marshal, emphasized the importance of safety: “We’ve already seen this year how wildfires can impact communities with the Darlene 3 Fire in Deschutes County.

“With temperatures forecasted to be in the 90s for the Fourth of July holiday, we’ll see an increased risk of wildfire.

“We all need to do our part to keep Oregon safe and enjoy a fun, fire-free Fourth of July.”

Fourth of July fire safety: Local restrictions and safety practices

To reduce fire risk, several local governments in Oregon have imposed restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks.

Residents are encouraged to check local regulations and adhere to them while celebrating the holiday.

Consumer-legal fireworks can only be purchased from permitted retailers and stands.

State regulations restrict where fireworks may be used.

Visitors to public lands and parks are advised to leave all fireworks at home, as their possession and use are prohibited in national parks, forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, U.S. Fish and Wildlife properties, state beaches, parks, and campgrounds.

Fireworks are also banned on many private lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Fireworks safety tips and legal guidelines

For those who purchase legal fireworks, fire officials recommend following the four Bs of safe fireworks use:

  • Be prepared before lighting fireworks: keep water available by using a garden hose or bucket.
  • Be safe when lighting fireworks: keep children and pets away from fireworks.
  • Never use fireworks near or on dry grass or vegetation.
  • Be responsible after lighting fireworks: never relight a dud.
  • Wait 15 to 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water before disposal.
  • Be aware: use only legal fireworks in legal places.

Oregon law prohibits the possession, use, or sale of any firework that flies into the air, explodes, or travels more than 12 feet horizontally without a permit issued by the state fire marshal.

Fireworks commonly known as bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers are illegal without a permit.

Those who misuse fireworks or allow them to cause damage may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damages.

Parents are liable for fireworks damage caused by their children.

Visit the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s website for resources about the sale and legal use of consumer fireworks, retail sale permits, and state rules for firework use and enforcement activities.

Seattle and King County’s fireworks ban

In Seattle and King County, the personal use of fireworks is illegal. Despite the ban, fireworks continue to cause fires and injuries annually.

In 2023, the Seattle Fire Department responded to 58 fireworks-related incidents.

In 2020, a notable fire in West Seattle, ignited by fireworks, resulted in $100,000 in damages but fortunately caused no injuries.

Fireworks can lead to severe injuries.

In 2023, Harborview Medical Center treated 58 patients for fireworks-related injuries, with ages ranging from 10 months to 57 years.

The injuries included burns, amputations, and damage to extremities, eyes, face, and head.

Although 78% of these injuries occurred outside King County, local incidents still contributed to the numbers.

Authorities recommend attending public fireworks displays, such as the one at the Space Needle, to prevent injuries and fires.

Miami-Dade County’s proactive measures

In Miami-Dade County, the Fire Rescue Department (MDFR) will conduct fireworks inspections to ensure public safety ahead of Fourth of July celebrations.

Inspectors will visit various fireworks locations to verify vendors are properly certified and not selling illegal fireworks.

They will also provide information on the dangers of using illegal fireworks and share safety tips.

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