Sound off: Fireworks ban on South Whidbey needs support


Citizens for Safe and Humane Fireworks is a public advocacy group that supports the complete ban of fireworks in Island County. Over the past year, we have engaged the community in all three county districts about Island County residents’ interest in implementing a fireworks ban.

We’ve launched an informative web site, social media campaign including a petition, held town halls, presented to the fire districts, met with the county fire marshal, presented to a veteran’s group and the Board of County Commissioners.

We’ve assembled data sets and other information that clearly show fireworks pollute the air, land, and water as well as the impact to the psychological and physiological well-being of humans and animals alike.

As a result of our efforts, the commissioners took action at their May 10 meeting to more clearly communicate the total ban that already exists in all 54 Island County parks, to consider banning all fireworks on July 5, and to look into ways to strengthen enforcement.

This park ban is county ordinance ICC 9-40-420 but has not been enforced to date. Not enforcing the ban contributes to the fireworks tourism that flourishes every year in Island County when off-islanders flood our beaches to set off their fireworks.

Among other things, our group asked for clear signage at all parks and at the ferry docks with a phone number to report violations, a strong social media campaign explaining that all fireworks are illegal in county parks and describing the fireworks that are currently illegal, and stationing deputies at popular parks before the fireworks activity begins. We urge the county commissioners and the sheriff to adopt our suggestions for the educational materials and enforcement of the current code.

Additionally, residents living in the jurisdiction of South Whidbey Fire/EMS have expressed the most interest via their signatures on our petition, multiple letters to the editor of the South Whidbey Record and many public comments to the Board of Island County Commissioners.

Therefore, based on the compelling information the group has provided, Citizens for Safe and Humane Fireworks urge the commissioners to move forward with a councilmanic vote, before July 4, 2023 to ban consumer fireworks within the South Whidbey Fire District boundaries. Such an incremental ban on consumer fireworks provides an opportunity on a smaller scale to work through implementation. A mandatory one-year waiting period for the new code to go into effect gives the county time to educate the community and plan for enforcement.

If you support these efforts, the time is now for Island County residents to send a personal email to Tell your Island County commissioners that you support their efforts to enforce the existing law and that it is imperative they take incremental steps to an eventual ban, starting within the South Whidbey Fire District. Our government needs to look forward in a time of extreme climate change.

Many other counties have implemented bans knowing that it would take time for public behavior to change but recognizing that the status quo was no longer safe or humane and the potential risk too high to wait for a disaster to occur to make the change.

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Citizens for Safe and Humane Fireworks is a group of Whidbey and Camano Island residents who have joined together in the belief that fireworks should be celebrated by the community in the form of municipal, permitted fireworks shows.