“Hot enough for ya?” How many times did you hear that in the past two weeks? In addition to the extremely high temperatures, the Pacific Northwest experienced a few other things — specifically rolling blackouts and fireworks bans.
Those who had air conditioners didn’t really mind the heat as long as they were not hit with the rolling blackout. Those without air conditioning had to find different ways to keep cool. It isn’t like we haven’t seen temperatures in the 100s in the past, but it was the length of time that was unusual.
Because of the length of time the temperature was high, along with the lack of rain as well as low humidity, the vegetation increasingly became more flammable. This caused a lot of concern about the potential for a devastating fire.
Having experienced the Malden-Pine City fire last September, I know how incredibly devastating it was for the whole community. Some of the people of Malden and Pine City escaped with their lives and not much else. It was fortunate that our first responders were there to help get people evacuated.
It was probably in the back of the mind of some people when they asked the city of Pullman to ban fireworks. Maybe I am jaded, but I believe some people wanting a fireworks ban had ulterior motives. There are people who have been arguing to ban fireworks for years. The hot and dry weather was simply an excuse.
It has been argued by some that people don’t need fireworks. Those who enjoy fireworks should go to professional shows rather than using personal fireworks. The anti-fireworks crowd reminds me of the anti-gun crowd.
Oh, those silly anti-gunners. People don’t need guns. Guns are dangerous. Only the professionals (police and military) should have guns. Sounds just like someone who is against personal fireworks.
The Pullman City Council held a meeting Friday prior to Independence Day to discuss banning personal fireworks and possibly canceling the fireworks show. The city code doesn’t have any provisions that covers an emergency ban of fireworks. Per RCW 70.77.250 (4) — “ … Any ordinances adopted by a county or city that are more restrictive than state law shall have an effective date no sooner than one year after their adoption.”
Because of that reason, it appears that the city council decided they didn’t have the authority to cancel fireworks.
It appears, however, the city is interested in drafting an update for the city codes that would allow the fire chief to ban fireworks under emergency conditions — which, I would hope, would be defined.
Does the fire chief have personal immunity from civil suits because of his decision? For example, if the fire chief decided not to have an emergency ban and a house catches fire, does this place the chief’s personal wellbeing in jeopardy? Would this make him more likely to ban fireworks? Whether or not he could be sued in his personal capacity, I wouldn’t want to be in his seat making the decision.
Let’s talk about what happened this year. According to the KQQQ Morning News, the number of fires this year was the same as the average over the past five years.
Just like a firearm, fireworks can be misused, which is probably what causes most of the issues. Improperly shot fireworks, modified fireworks, and shooting fireworks in unsafe areas are probably the main causes of issues.
Fireworks shot into the air are designed to burn out before they come back to the ground. Other ground-based fireworks will typically not ignite fires when used over paved areas or in wetted down, green vegetation.
This year, the amount of fireworks lit off was about the same as normal. So it means that the majority of the people were highly responsible, just as they are every year.
There are many potentially dangerous activities in which we don’t need to participate, but many of these activities make life fulfilling.
Anderson is a computer programmer who enjoys serving the community through various community-oriented service jobs.