This is the last year residents in Vancouver will be allowed to buy and use fireworks in city limits – and the last year for less than law abiding Oregonians who cross the Columbia River to purchase fireworks you can’t buy in Portland.
Last year, the Vancouver City Council passed an ordinance banning the personal use of any fireworks, including sparklers. They also banned the sale of fireworks in city limits.
The new ordinance goes into effect in October. Vancouver city officials say the ban will reduce injuries and fires. But some in the industry say the new regulations are misguided.
Gene Marlow owns Mean Gene Fireworks and runs 10 locations in southwest Washington. He said what’s been good about the Washington market is that he’s been able to sell what he called “the good stuff.”
“Aerial type items that they don’t sell in Oregon, so like the mortars, which are kind of like the home version of the big fireworks displays. And we have multi-shot repeaters that kind of do similar things. Roman Candles. You know, things that fly and go up in the air,” Marlow said. “Some of them go boom, some of them have lots of big colorful burst or lots of different effects."
Marlow said fireworks are mostly safe, but also acknowledged they can be dangerous especially if people modify them.
He said the city’s new ordinance is misguided.
“Last year was so hot and dry we were nervous too,” Marlow said. “This year, we’re having more normal weather. Everybody freaked out over last year and wanted to ban and do that kind of stuff based on a very unusual weather event.”
City officials believe the ordinance is needed.
Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said in the past fireworks have led to injuries.
“Typically there will be a usually a young male, between 10 and 17 years old that they’ll take fireworks, they’ll use them improperly or they’ll modify them, which is illegal,” she said. “They’re very, very catastrophic results where they’ve had significant injuries from fireworks, all the way to garage fires and home fires from fireworks use.”
Clark County also has new rules that went into effect this year. South of 219th Street people can only use fireworks on the Fourth of July. But North of 219th Street, people can use fireworks from June 28 to July 4 and on New Year's Eve.