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Published on Monday, March 2, 2015

Bills to limit cities’ authority to regulate fireworks keep moving

Two bills that would restrict the ability of cities and counties to regulate fireworks continue to make their way through the legislature. HB 1702/SB 5914 have both advanced and now could be brought up for a vote in their respective houses at any time.

Currently, the Washington State Patrol's director of fire protection sets minimum fire prevention standards for fireworks in Washington. Presently, for retail fireworks sales, local jurisdictions have discretion to pass more restrictive ordinances than the minimum state standards for retail fireworks sales and use. HB 1702 and SB 5914 would limit our authority to pass stricter local regulations. The bills would limit local authority to adopt regulations only for the days and hours of sales and the types of fireworks sold. HB 1702 has been amended to clarify that cities can still ban all fireworks, but the language in SB 5914 calls into question whether or not cities could still ban. Also troubling is the timing of the bills. As currently drafted, they would take effect prior to this July 4 meaning that the new regulations would take effect without sufficient time for the state or locals to revise regulations and prepare for the new requirements. Finally, the bills mandate that the state adopt the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code 1124 for the manufacture, transportation, storage, and retail sales of fireworks and pyrotechnic articles. There are some concerns about the use of this particular standard as the NFPA itself has removed this code from their recommended regulations.

We urge city officials to let your legislators know that public safety is our highest priority and cities need to retain the ability to adopt specific local regulations to ensure the safe and sane use of fireworks. Urge your local legislators to oppose these proposals.

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