Fireworks are banned on the Island, but You’ll Definitely Hear Them this 4th!

fireworks by ClipartixThe Fourth of July on Bainbridge Island has always been a festive affair. Besides all the fun activities around the Grand Old Fourth of July celebration in Downtown Winslow – the Street Fair, the Classic Car Show, the Parade, and so on – there has always been another element: the sound and fury of fireworks going off all over the island.

When we first moved here more than three decades ago, we couldn’t believe the amount of time and money being spent blowing up a large assortment of fireworks on island beaches and neighborhoods, or in someone’s back yard. We attended a number of parties over the years, where it felt like we were in a war zone with rockets, cakes, mortars, repeaters, along with old-fashioned fire crackers, spewing all over the place. Did if feel unsafe and dangerous? It sure did, especially when a dud explosive miss-fired and went sailing all over the place.

Over the years, some local residents and the City of Bainbridge Island, have made attempts to curb the use of fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday. But it’s been a bit of an uphill battle, as fireworks stands are easily assessible on Highway 305 north of Bainbridge, and the tradition of celebrating our independence by blowing things up is almost hardwired into our DNA.

Fireworks ban imageAs it stands, fireworks are prohibited on Bainbridge Island per ordinance (BIMC 8.28). This includes the banning of sparklers, Roman candles, rockets, cones, and firecrackers. But truth be told, local police and firefighters have a tough job trying to regulate and enforce this ordinance on an island the size of Manhattan, and with populace that likes to party and do things with a bang – or two!

A decade or so ago, a local group organized a community fireworks display on the evening of the Fourth on Eagle Harbor. A barge set off some very sophisticated pyrotechnics – similar to the displays you might see in Seattle or other communities. The effort was supposed to staunch locals holding their own fireworks parties. It didn’t work, well not exactly. Even as people were gathering near Waterfront Park or on the edges of the harbor, you could hear and see fireworks being set off around you. Some even appeared to be Category F4s, the big ones that could be hazardous if not handled properly and are basically intended for use only by persons with specialist knowledge.

The community fireworks has since gone away – due in part of lack of funding and more recently the Pandemic – and now residents are left once again to their own devices. Critics claim the noise level of fireworks adversely affect dogs, cats, horses and wild animals, all of which don’t understand why we humans are suddenly making so much racket. There’s also, of course, the concern for fires and the safety of people who may want to set of a firecracker or two. Mix in a little alcohol, and it’s not a good formula.

Our local authorities say that on the Fourth of July, concerned citizens can call 9-1-1 to report illegal fireworks or any of the following:

  • Someone injured from a firework
  • A fire started by a firework
  • You witness someone attempting to start a fire with a firework
  • You witness someone assaulting someone with a firework

Between July 1 through July 4, during the hours of 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., nuisance fireworks complaints can be made by calling the Bainbridge Police Department directly at 206-842-5211. Calls that include a specific location where fireworks are being discharged will be prioritized over those reporting a general area. Bainbridge police will be out in the community and available to assist as needed throughout the holiday weekend.

Check out this site to find safe, local fireworks displays:

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