‘Don’t Blow It, Cut The Fuse’: Reminder that the use and/or sale of consumer fireworks is prohibited in unincorporated King County

As the July 4th holiday approaches, Local Services reminds residents that the use and sale of consumer fireworks are not allowed in unincorporated King County.

To put it another way, #DontBlowIt: Residents must #CutTheFuse on fireworks in unincorporated areas such as Skyway, White Center, Snoqualmie Valley, Greater Maple Valley, Enumclaw Plateau and Vashon Island.

This is the first year that fireworks have been banned in unincorporated King County. For some, the new rules are a big change to their July 4th traditions. Unincorporated areas won’t see fireworks stands. Residents aren’t allowed to light fireworks in their cul-de-sacs or back yards.

Instead, folks are encouraged to find ways to celebrate the Fourth of July that don’t endanger residents, pets or property (more on that below).

“We understand that this fireworks ban might represent a basic change in the July 4th celebration activities for some people,” King County Fire Marshal Chris Ricketts said. “We’re taking extra efforts this year to educate folks about these changes, and we’re stressing that fireworks can be dangerous, traumatic and are absolutely not allowed in unincorporated King County.”

First year of fireworks ban

In 2021, King County Executive Dow Constantine signed the ban into law prohibiting the use and sale of consumer fireworks, and state law required a year before the ban took effect. 

County leaders had discussed a consumer fireworks ban in unincorporated areas for years. There have been several 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 a person died.

The new rules bring the unincorporated areas in line with most neighboring King County cities and jurisdictions with established fireworks bans on their books.

Violators of the fireworks ban

With this year being the first that fireworks aren’t permitted, King County is placing an emphasis on community education about the new rules and is deferring issuing citations for a year.

However, that doesn’t mean folks will be able to light fireworks without repercussion, leaving their neighborhoods helpless. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

Starting June 14, residents will be able to report violators online by visiting kingcounty.gov/reportfireworks (users will have to sign up for our system) or by calling 206-848-0800. King County will issue a warning to violators and include them in our records. If the behavior continues, these violators will likely be the first to eventually receive citations.

Since our Permitting Division is handling the program, Local Services will bring more information to our communities in the coming weeks, including a June 14 community safety event (stay tuned for more details). Be on the lookout for our materials!

So if fireworks aren’t allowed, how should residents celebrate the July 4th holiday?

This is another question we hear from the community – and the good news is there are plenty of ways to celebrate the Fourth of July safely and without fireworks. Below is a sampling of ideas, courtesy of the King County Fire Chiefs Association:

  • Light up the night with glowsticks or glow-in-the-dark bubbles
  • Have an outdoor movie night
  • Bake a cake for America’s birthday
  • Make a statement with noise makers
  • Have fun with red, white and blue Silly String
  • Decorate your porch or yard
  • Find fun craft and coloring activities for kids
  • Dress up your pets!

And if you still want to enjoy fireworks without directly using them, consider attending a public display. Many of the region’s annual fireworks displays were canceled last year due to the pandemic, but several of those are back on this year (please follow mask and social distancing recommendations).

“Contrary to what some might believe, there are plenty of fun ways to celebrate July 4th safely and without fireworks,” Ricketts says. “It’s a change, but it’s a welcome change for many in unincorporated King County and our neighboring communities.”

SAVE THE DATE: Summer Fire + Safety Event

Everyone is invited to join King County Local Services for our first Summer Fire + Safety Event on Tuesday, June 14!

The event takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Skyway Fire Department, 12417 76th Avenue S.

Those who attend will be able to:

  • Hear from local officials and fire protection professionals about the new fireworks ban in unincorporated King County
  • Learn safety tips on the dangers of fireworks use
  • Get other information related to summer safety, including wildfire danger

If you have any questions, feel free to send an email to asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov.

Hope to see you there!