The Pasco Police Department is asking the Pasco city council to double the number of fireworks stands allowed during the year.
At Tuesday night’s council workshop meeting, Deputy Pasco Fire Chief Ed Dunbar said the number of fires nearly doubled over the 4th of July holiday in 2018, the year a ban on fireworks was lifted.
However, the number of fire incidents returned to their average level of around 6 fires in 2019.
At Monday night’s city council workshop meeting, Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins says city leaders are not considering reinstating a ban on fireworks.
“Just outlawing them wasn’t working,” Watkins said. “Trying to make that distinguishing line, and I think (Fire) Chief Gear keeps making it as simple as possible– stuff that flies isn’t cool in Pasco. And if we can keep doing that simple, consistent message, we might be able to manage it.”
Sergeant Jeff Harpster with the Pasco Police Department told council that the police department and fire department will begin media and social media messages earlier, prior to the date that fireworks stands begin selling pyrotechnics.
Currently, the city allows four fireworks stands to set up shop during the course of the year. Three of those can sell fireworks for the 4th of July, and one for New Year’s Eve.
The police department is recommending that the city double that.
Watkins commented that it made sense to double the number of stands, since the population of the city has nearly doubled in the past 20 years.
Deputy Fire Chief Ed Dunbar reiterated that more focus needs to be made on educating residents about how to properly dispose of fireworks as a way to prevent fires.
“We did have two building fires (in 2018), one was because they stacked their used fireworks against their house.” Dunbar also said a structure fire on July 4th of 2019 was caused by fireworks being placed in a trash can that then ignited and spread to the home.
Dunbar said fire crews were out patrolling this year. Firefighters didn’t issue any citations for illegal fireworks, but referred the incidents to the police department.
This year, officers issued 18 citations for illegal fireworks used, compared to 8 in 2018.
City officials believe that increasing the number of fireworks stands in Pasco will increase access to legal fireworks, and make it less likely that Pasco residents will bring prohibited fireworks into the city from other nearby towns.