Playing with fire(works)

Protecting the island from fire risk outweighs the spectacle and fun of fireworks.

  • Wednesday, June 26, 2019 3:23pm
  • Opinion

I am going to take advantage of the opportunity to use the editorial voice to make a statement:

It’s probably a good idea to ban fireworks on this island.

Or, in other words:

Please don’t burn down this island.

Fireworks, of course, reflect celebration, patriotism, spectacle and fun and can be awe-inspiring and beautiful when executed with organization and with safety protocols in place. But they can also be a real threat, especially when all the fire warning signs on the island have arrows pointing to red. I have never seriously considered the issue of fireworks or executing any opinion about it until I started working on this island. The possibility of a small fire turning into an uncontained wildfire is all too real. We have one fire department and our escape routes are random ferries that follow an unpredictable schedule, and unless you’re lucky enough to own a boat or helicopter — well, the scenario is terrifying.

So is a fireworks ban even possible? Actually, it is not impossible, according to King County Council Member Joe McDermott.

“There are cities around the county that have bans, yes. Seattle has long had a ban; Burien has a ban. Burien just increased their penalties,” he said. He emphasized that the attempt to ban fireworks is not a futile gesture. This idea has been reinforced by local residents who have started petitions for a permanent ban.

Although a ban may not be possible this upcoming Fourth of July, we luckily have fire patrols in place, which will be on the lookout for small fires, in the hopes of containing them before they turn into larger wildfires. The imminent danger of just one fire that can easily get out of control poses a cloud of dread over what should be a stress-free holiday.

Is it really worth the risk?

The Beachcomber welcomes other voices and arguments. It would be great to understand how the pleasure of personal fireworks is more important than our safety and the all-too-realistic possibility that everything that is dry and flammable around us can burn and be destroyed. Let’s enjoy food, family, friends and celebration, and let’s leave the big fireworks to those who have the safeguards in place.

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