EAST WENATCHEE — The East Wenatchee City Council is moving forward with the discussion of whether to ban fireworks.
A public hearing on the topic will be held during a council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The public can attend in person at the East Wenatchee City Hall or virtually.
Following the public hearing, the council is scheduled to vote on a motion requesting that city staff prepare an ordinance on the issue for the council’s March 15 meeting. The council discussed a possible ban at two workshops last fall.
A rough format of the ordinance included in the council’s meeting packet has options to prohibit or allow:
- The sale of fireworks for Fourth of July
- The discharge of fireworks for Fourth of July
- The sale of fireworks for New Year’s
- The discharge of fireworks for New Year’s
Also during the meeting, the council is set to vote on an ordinance that would give the mayor power to ban the sale and discharge of fireworks under certain conditions, such as during a fire hazard. The ordinance contains a clause that allows a ban from the mayor to be rescinded with a majority vote from the city council.
Current city code permits fireworks sales for Fourth of July as well as the discharge of fireworks for Fourth of July 4 and New Year’s. East Wenatchee, Bridgeport and Rock Island are the only places in Chelan and Douglas counties that allow fireworks.
Fire Chief Brian Brett, who leads Chelan County Fire District 1 and Douglas County Fire District 2, said he supports a fireworks ban during a council workshop in September. He said the region no longer has the resources to handle the risk fireworks create in the summer when fire season is at its height.
“From the fire service standpoint, we can’t stand here and say the risk is low and we can handle this,” Brett told the council. “Even though my children think I’m the Grinch, I have to speak to public safety first.”
In the same meeting, East Wenatchee Police Chief Rick Johnson said a fireworks bans would be difficult to enforce.
“I can promise you there would be increased conflict with our public and law enforcement responding to these calls. People generally are not happy about getting their fireworks taken away and not happy about getting cited for the fine associated with it,” he said at the workshop. “Not saying we couldn’t do it, we absolutely could. It just is one that is hard to catch on view because a lot of times you’ll see aerial fireworks and when the police pull into the area, they’re no longer there.”
Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, also wrote to the council and Mayor Jerrilea Crawford to express support for a ban.
“During periods of summer heat, extended dry conditions, and high winds, it seems absurd to drive around town and see fireworks being sold that could easily start structure fires and wildfires,” he wrote. “Simply put, the economic destruction of fires, potential loss of life, poor air quality, and millions of taxpayer dollars invested all make approving your fireworks ban a very reasonable decision.”
Editor's note: A previous version of this story said East Wenatchee and Rock Island are the only municipalities in Chelan and Douglas counties that allow fireworks. Bridgeport also allows fireworks.