Starting next year, consumer fireworks will be prohibited in unincorporated King County.
The King County Council’s vote last week means the consumer fireworks ban goes into effect during the 2022 Fourth of July fireworks season. Residents will still be able to enjoy approved public fireworks displays.
County leaders have discussed a consumer fireworks ban in unincorporated areas for years. There have been several large wildfires in rural parts of the county during recent dry summers, and several fireworks-related injuries and other incidents in urban areas—including a 2019 house fire in White Center in which one person died.
State law requires a one-year waiting period before the ban takes effect. That means sales and discharge of consumer fireworks will still be allowed this year.
When the new county ordinance does take effect, Fire Marshal Chris Ricketts said, violating it will be a misdemeanor. In 2022, the County will place a strong emphasis focusing on community education about the new rules and defer issuing citations for a year.
“Our goal is to give the public information in advance,” Ricketts said, “to make sure they know about the new law and when it will take effect. Our priority is safety. We want the people who live, work, and play in unincorporated King County to enjoy the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, and other holidays—safely.”
Fireworks use this year
With the fireworks ban going into effect next year, Ricketts and other public safety officials suggest more residents will discharge fireworks while they still can on and around this Fourth of July.
Public fireworks displays that haven’t been canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions are still the safest option to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday, he said.
Ricketts added that if you decide to use consumer fireworks, please do so with caution and follow local rules and regulations.
Although he strongly advises against using consumer fireworks, Ricketts did offer a few instructions to do so safely and legally:
- Fireworks are banned in many King County cities (check with your local jurisdiction)
- Fireworks purchased from approved firework stands can only be discharged in unincorporated King County on July 4, and they must be sold by Washington State licensed retailers at approved and permitted stands.
- Fireworks not purchased from a state-licensed fireworks retailer cannot legally be discharged in unincorporated King County. They may be considered explosive material.
- If it has a stick or fins and it goes up, or if it explodes, it’s illegal in Washington State.
- Fireworks are not allowed in King County Parks, per King County Code.
- Fireworks may be discharged only on July 4 between 9 a.m. and midnight.
- Fireworks sales can legally begin at noon on June 28. They are then permitted between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. through July 4. You must be at least 16 years old, with photo identification, to purchase fireworks.
- If you choose to buy and discharge fireworks, follow these safety tips:
- Always have a responsible adult light all fireworks.
- Use eye protection.
- Have a charged garden hose or a fire extinguisher handy.
- Use fireworks outdoors only—away from buildings, houses with wood exteriors, trees, and dry fields.
- Avoid aerial fireworks.
- Light one item at a time, move away quickly, and have everyone keep a safe distance.
- If a device does not light or fire, an adult should wait at least five minutes before approaching it.
- Clean up all debris and soak used fireworks in water before disposing of them.
- Keep pets safe (Regional Animal Services of King County) provides information about fireworks safety for pets).