Firework Safety Stressed As 4th Of July Nears

COEUR D’ALENE — Every summer, millions of Americans find enjoyment in lighting off millions of dollars of fireworks. But fireworks can also be dangerous if used improperly and numerous restrictions and bans are in place this summer to promote safe firework usage.

“We don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade but it is very important that fireworks are handled properly,” Coeur d’Alene firefighter Ben Hector says, “Especially for parents with kids.”

While firework stands have started sprouting up throughout the Inland Northwest, not all of what they sell can be legally set off.

“Some non-approved fireworks are obviously bottle rockets, the jumping jet type fire works, and then any type of aerial device attached to it that would cause it to move more than 15 feet,” Hector says of Coeur d’Alene’s restrictions.

Beyond size restrictions, officials note that any firework that appears to be tampered with must be treated as an improvised explosive device and those that seem defective should be treated with similar caution.

Officials say the key is to light one firework at a time and never try to light up a dud. If a firework doesn’t ignite, it’s best to leave it alone.

Fireworks can quickly reach 3000 degrees Farenheit, which can cause burning injuries in the blink of an eye. And even if you and your family are out of harm’s way, every year fireworks are to blame for starting fires that can quickly get out of hand in the dry heat.

With all of these dangers in mind, communities have weighed the pros and cons of fireworks and come to geographically specific conclusions about what can and can not be set off through the Fourth of July.

For the 16th year in a row, fireworks have been outlawed in Spokane and unincorporated Spokane County. Even something as seemingly harmless as a sparkler is not allowed to be set off in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake or Cheney.

North Idaho is a little more lax on fireworks restrictions but numerous stipulations are still in effect. For example, it is illegal to set off fireworks on all public land and only fireworks that have been legally purchased within city limits are allowed until the day after Independence Day.

However, Airway Heights and Deer Park have opted out of the fireworks ban and certain fireworks can be set off within city limits in those two towns. Similarly, you are allowed to set off fireworks on local Indian reservations if you’ve obtained permission from the landowner.

With all these rules specific to various cities and communities, it’s a good idea to check with your local law enforcement agencies to see exactly when and where you can legally and safely set off fireworks.

It’s also important to note that larger fireworks have been banned pretty much universally throughout the Inland Northwest. In North Idaho, for example, it is illegal to set off any firework that travels more than 15 feet or sends off a spark greater than 20 feet away.

Most fireworks allowances last through the Fourth or Fifth of July, though fireworks can be shot off on Native American lands until July 16th.