Gig Harbor city council votes to ban commercial fireworks starting in 2023

Residents may buy and light personal fireworks this Fourth of July holiday in Gig Harbor before the ban goes into effect.

GIG HARBOR, Wash. — Gig Harbor is among the latest municipalities in western Washington to ban the sale and personal use of fireworks, but the new rule won’t be in effect for another year.

The Gig Harbor City Council voted 4-3 Monday to pass an ordinance that would prohibit the sale of fireworks and lighting fireworks for personal use within city limits.

The ordinance goes into effect 12 months from now, so residents may still enjoy at-home fireworks for the upcoming July 4th holiday.

The decision comes on the heels of another city code that is currently in effect in Gig Harbor, which limits the sale of fireworks and the lighting of fireworks to certain days. Fireworks sales in Gig Harbor will be allowed June 28-July 5 with varying hours . Lighting personal fireworks will be allowed on July 4th only, from 9 am to midnight.

Councilmembers at their regular meeting on Monday voted narrowly to approve the fireworks ban, with some arguing the current limits in place have yet to be observed. Other councilmembers expressed the urgency to enact the ban now, despite a wetter and cooler-than-normal spring ..

“If we don’t take action now, then the next year when it might be super hot or super dry, we’ll have no ordinance in place,” Gig Harbor Councilmember Roger Henderson said.

Before the vote, councilmembers and Gig Harbor Mayor Tracie Markley took public comment calls during the virtual meeting.

One public commenter said a fireworks ban would help veterans experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“Imagine if a close relative or friend suffered from PTSD, which was exacerbated by July 4th fireworks. Would you want to place them at risk by allowing this activity to continue,” the commenter wrote to the council.

Others also agreed that a fireworks ban is needed to mitigate wildfire risk in the age of climate change.

“One errant spark into a dry landscape will create more of a risk than is worth taking,” one commenter said.

Some Gig Harbor residents, however, said such a ban would have negative effects. One soccer dad said his daughter, who is about to enter high school, relies on fireworks sales for fundraising.

“A lot of sporting groups use the sale of fireworks a their biggest fundraiser so they can get uniforms, so they can get equipment,” he said.

Gig Harbor now joins King County, unincorporated King County, south unincorporated Snohomish County and several other cities like Tacoma and Renton, that have banned selling and lighting commercial fireworks within city limits.

In 2021, King County approved a ban on at-home fireworks, which goes into effect starting this year.

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