John Taylor, director of the King County Department of Local Services, speaks about the fireworks ban in Skyway on June 14. Behind Taylor (from left): King County Fire Marshal Chris Ricketts, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, Skyway Fire Chief Eric Hicks and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record

John Taylor, director of the King County Department of Local Services, speaks about the fireworks ban in Skyway on June 14. Behind Taylor (from left): King County Fire Marshal Chris Ricketts, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, Skyway Fire Chief Eric Hicks and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record

Fireworks ban takes effect this year in unincorporated King County

The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

As the Fourth of July approaches, King County officials have launched a public safety campaign reminding residents that — for the first year — the sale and discharge of fireworks is illegal in unincorporated areas of King County.

The King County Council, which serves as the local government for those in unincorporated areas, passed legislation banning consumer fireworks in the spring of 2021. Following a one year, state-required waiting period, the ban took effect this year.

For the first year, the county will only be issuing warnings, said John Taylor, the director of the county’s Local Services Department, hoping to take an educational rather than punitive approach. Citations will be handed out for violations beginning in 2023, although the county hasn’t finalized what that will look like.

The new law will impact the Snoqualmie Valley (including Fall City), Skyway, White Center, Greater Maple Valley, the Enumclaw Plateau and Vashon Island. The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

Much of the Snoqualmie Valley, because of its heavily forested and rural surroundings, is at a higher risk of wildfires compared to other parts of King County.

Last year, North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland issued an executive order banning aerial fireworks in the city, but allowed ground fireworks. Snoqualmie introduced a permanent ban on aerial fireworks several years ago, but also allows ground fireworks.

The Church on the Ridge in Snoqualmie will be hosting a professional fireworks show at Snoqualmie Community Park, beginning at 9:45 p.m. July 4.

The county had discussed introducing a fireworks ban for years because of a combination of injuries and wildfires in rural areas, but it was King County Councilmember Joe McDermott who first brought the legislation forward. McDermott said the legislation was prompted by the death of 70-year-old veteran, Roland Kennedy of White Center, who was killed in his home by a fireworks-ignited fire in 2019.

“There are many reasons to discuss banning fireworks, from wildfires to accidental injuries, but it was Mr.Kennedy’s death that led me to introduce this legislation,” McDermott said during prepared remarks in Skyway on June 14.

“A majority of jurisdictions in King County already ban the sale and discharge of commercial fireworks,” he said. “It was high time the county provided the same levels of public safety for residents in unincorporated King County.”

McDermott was joined by King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, who said he was initially opposed to the legislation with concerns about how it could contribute to excessive force and unfairly penalize low-income residents and people of color. However, after speaking with constituents, Zahilay said he had a change of heart.

“I spoke to more people. I spoke to our fire chiefs … who told me that our fire departments prepare for the 4th of July as if they are preparing for an extreme natural disaster,” he said. “[My concerns] are all valid concerns, but how do you weigh that against the toll on public safety?”

Eric Hicks, a fire chief in Skyway and president of the King County Fire Chiefs Association, said July 4 is historically one of the busiest days of the year for firefighters, with crews responding to four times the number of fires compared to a normal summer day. That also includes a substantial increase in medical calls, he said.

“This has been a plague on our community for years from our veterans to our pets. I’m glad the community brought this forward in a grassroots effort,” Hicks said. “We hope this ordinance will reduce the emergencies we respond to.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

t
Fire displaces family of five from downtown Kent home

Nobody injured in Monday evening, June 27 blaze

Tsr
Renton spa manager accused of trying to coerce woman into prostitution, posing nude

Quyen T. Nguyen, 39, has been accused of attempted promotion of prostitution… Continue reading

Police vehicle
Kent man charged in killing man who had an affair with his girlfriend

Des Moines man stabbed multiple times before body dumped in remote area near Skyway

Teaser
King County experts discuss extreme heat mitigation plan

The plan includes improving infrastructure and communications to prevent future disasters.

t
Enumclaw driver arrested for DUI, vehicular homicide in Highway 18 crash

Crashed into the back of a disabled semi June 27 near Tiger Mountain; Maple Valley woman killed

T
Public art call for South King County transit corridor

Deadline is July 13 for artists to apply to have their work in new RapidRide expansion.

t
Swimmer swept away in Green River Gorge, presumed drowned

Saturday, June 25 near Black Diamond; 20-year-old man missing

t
Kent Police involved in an officer-involved shooting

Nobody hit by shots but few details released by police about June 26 incident

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Most Read