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Be smart when celebrating July Fourth holiday with fireworks

Published: 05:04PM June 28th, 2012
Be smart when celebrating July Fourth holiday with fireworks

Jason Kaye/Northwest Guardian

Fireworks explode over Cowan Stadium during the 2008 JBLM Freedom Fest Fourth of July celebration.When planning your own holiday festivities, remember to follow your town’s regulations on fireworks to avoid any mishaps.Jason Kaye/Northwest Guardian

It’s difficult not to look forward to the traditional excitement of the Fourth of July, but proceed with caution: personal fireworks are all but prohibited on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and rules off the installation vary from place to place.

“It’s nice to get together to celebrate, but you have to do it smartly,” JBLM Fire Inspector Edward Chavez said.

Possession and use of fireworks are banned on the installation. The only exception is for professional, public firework displays that have been authorized by the JBLM commander.

There are usually a few significant hauls on JBLM each year, according to Capt. Angela Zecca of the JBLM Provost Marshal’s Office. The items are typically confiscated and disposed of. However, violators could face charges under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

That’s for the best, Chavez said. He discourages parents from letting kids under 16 use even fireworks that are commonly regarded to be harmless. Even a sparkler can burn in excess of 1,200 degrees, according to the National Fire Protection Association. By contrast, glass melts at 900 degrees.

Zecca agreed, advising parental supervision of all kids using fireworks.

It’s particularly important to be cautious in dry weather or crowded, urban areas. Legal fireworks can still have unintended consequences, including landing on a neighbor’s roof.

Of course, there are other complications that can bring a celebration to a screeching halt. Chavez pointed out that it’s not just kids who can be careless with fireworks. He also cautions adults who indulge in one of the Fourth of July’s other established traditions — drinking.

“Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix,” he said.

By and large, he advises people to enjoy someone else’s firework display and not take the risk with their own. If you choose to use legal, “safe and sane” fireworks, be sure to check the rules and regulations for where you live.

“What we try to emphasize to people is to let the professionals do it,” he said.

Local fireworks rules

DuPont: Legal fireworks are permitted Tuesday and Wednesday only between noon and midnight. They are prohibited on public property, including streets and parks. Firecrackers, pop bottle rockets, individual rockets and missiles, and altered fireworks of any kind are illegal.

Lacey: Sale and discharge of all fireworks is prohibited.

Lakewood: Common fireworks are permitted from Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Puyallup: Legal fireworks are permitted Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Permission to discharge fireworks must be obtained from property owners of homes, parks, vacant lots, streets and sidewalks.

Steilacoom: Discharge of all fireworks is banned.

Tacoma: Purchase, possession and discharge of all fireworks are prohibited.

For more information on rules in your area, contact local authorities.

To check other areas: