The symbolic use of fireworks on the July 4th, New Years Eve, and other celebratory events is something Americans have always enjoyed.
However, for public safety reasons, many local municipalities have passed restrictive laws restricting the possession and use of fireworks.
For example, in 2016 in Washington State there were 242 fireworks-related injuries. Many of the injuries are to children, while under adult supervision. In addition, there were 85 fireworks-related fires resulting in $265,000 in property loss.
If you do decide to host your own display on July 4th or any other time, be sure to know the laws in your area. Read below about fireworks laws in the Seattle-Tacoma metro area, as well as other municipalities and unincorporated areas in the Puget Sound region.
In addition, only let adults light fireworks, and keep fireworks, matches, and lighters away from small hands. Be sure to discharge all fireworks devices so there are no leftovers to tempt curious children later.
The science of fireworks
Enjoy this chemistry video for kids about the fun science behind fireworks. Find out how fireworks work, where the cool colors come from and what makes the big explosions.
Watch this 1-hour YouTube fun, kid-friendly ‘The Science of Fireworks’ video hosted by the entertaining Professor Chris Bishop from Royal Institution.
Read the short Geolgogy.com article about The Art and Science of Fireworks Displays, including the science behind the bursts and colors.
In this flashy interactive on the Anatomy of a Firework, put on the pyrotechnician’s hat and see a typical firework from the inside out.
Fireworks laws in the Puget Sound region
In the interest of public safety, many governments have categorized the possession of fireworks as an illegal act and have therefore criminalized fourth of July celebrations in their city. So, before you celebrate your fourth of July with fireworks, be sure to research and educate yourself on the relevant fireworks laws in your area. Contact your local police or fire department to inquire about local rules, ordinances, and laws before purchasing or using fireworks. The links below are a good starting place.
Washington State: Washington State Fireworks Law governs the regulation of fireworks, including what fireworks are legal, licensing for public fireworks displays and for fireworks sellers, and when fireworks may be discharged. However, it leaves some room for local regulation, such as when fireworks may be sold or discharged and for cities and counties to completely prohibit the sale and discharge of fireworks. More info: http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=70.77
Snohomish County: Most cities and all parks and public lands prohibit the discharge of fireworks. More info: http://www.snohomishcountywa.gov/290/Fireworks
Everett: All ﬁreworks are illegal inside Everett City limits. More info: https://everettwa.gov/documentcenter/view/906
King County fireworks regulations apply to unincorporated areas outside the jurisdiction of local cities. More info: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/permitting-environmental-review/fire-marshal/fireworks.aspx
Seattle: The possession, manufacture, storage, sale, handling and use of fireworks are prohibited in Seattle, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Pierce County: The sale and discharge of fireworks is regulated. More info: http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/28571. Only Washington state approved class c (1.4g) common fireworks may be sold in retail, licensed fireworks stands. Illegal devices include sky rockets, bottle rockets, missile type rockets, chasers, firecrackers, and salutes. More info: http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/28570
Tacoma: All Fireworks are illegal in the City of Tacoma. More info: https://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_departments/fire/About/fireworks/
Island County: contact your local municipality, police, and fire department.
Tribal Lands: Remember that many of the fireworks purchased on Tribal Land are only legal to discharge on a Tribal Land.
Other areas: Contact your local police or fire department to inquire about local rules, ordinances, and laws before purchasing, possessing, or discharging fireworks.