King County Council approves ban on fireworks in unincorporated areas

KING COUNTY, Wash. — The King County Council voted 5-4 Tuesday to ban fireworks in unincorporated areas of the county.

Under the measure, people will not be able to discharge fireworks, although public displays would still be allowed with a permit. Violations are still a misdemeanor and the maximum fine is $250 per day.

Fireworks are already banned in other jurisdictions in King County, but in unincorporated areas, restrictions were limited and not always enforced.

Councilmember Joe McDermott introduced the legislation.

“This isn’t about the heavy hand of the law as much as it is about public education,” McDermott told KIRO 7.

McDermott said he proposed the ban after hearing from residents of White Center, a dense, unincorporated neighborhood surrounded by cities that ban fireworks.

“We have had a war zone for years,” said White Center resident Joan Huddleston.

In 2019, a man died in a fireworks-related fire.

Many neighbors called in to the council meeting to say they often have to hose down their houses.

“I am not anti-fireworks, but I am anti-burn down my house,” said Mary Dzieweczynski of White Center.

Because of state law, the ban won’t begin until 2022.

The county council is also delaying enforcement until 2023, in order to educate people about the law.

The council also ordered a study to measure equity of enforcement.

David Freeburg, whose family runs two fireworks stands, advocates more education and regulation instead of a ban.

He predicts people will instead buy the more potent fireworks available at tribal stands.

“Banning this is not going to solve the problems that are being brought forth,” Freeburg said.