Local law enforcement sees uptick in fireworks-related complaints during July 4th weekend

(File photo)

Local law enforcement agencies reported higher-than-normal numbers of firework complaints last 4th of July weekend as people were left to celebrate on their own.

To comply with the state restrictions on large public gatherings, local Fourth of July celebrations were canceled. As a result, the Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace police departments spent Independence Day responding to a large number of fireworks complaints across their respective cities.

“I know that following the long COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and the following limitations due to the virus, many areas of the county — including us — experienced an increase in fireworks usage, despite local bans,” said Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Pete Caw.

Fireworks are illegal in all three cities, although they were legal in unincorporated areas of Snohomish County on July 4 only. Instead of issuing citations, police focused more on encouraging offenders to comply with bans to save time for responding to other complaints.

Caw said the department responded to 52 fireworks complaints over the holiday weekend. However, he added that he could not say for certain if there were more calls made this year than in previous years.

“I heard from most of the officers that this year seemed to be a bit more than last year,” Caw said. “No surprise, considering the long stay-at-home restrictions and people wanting to celebrate the Fourth.”

The Edmonds Police Department reported nearly 80 calls regarding fireworks were made between late July 4 and early July 5.

Two patrol units were assigned to handle fireworks complaints and they responded to 58 of the calls. The rest were taken by other patrol officers or non-dispatched contacts. Additionally, Edmonds police reported responding to two fires that required assistance from South County Fire.

South County Fire also reported an above-average number of calls and responded to 16 fireworks-related fires.

According to South County Fire spokesperson Leslie Hynes, most of the fires involved brush, trees and dumpsters. She said there were no structure fires and the most serious fireworks-related injury involved a teenager in Everett.

Lynnwood police also reported an increase in calls compared to last year. Spokesperson Joanna Small said the department received 69 calls — seven more than 2019. Small added that responding officers also focused on education and advised offenders to comply with local bans.

“We, like Edmonds, don’t typically issue citations for fireworks violations but rather give warnings,” she said.

–By Cody Sexton

9 Replies to “Local law enforcement sees uptick in fireworks-related complaints during July 4th weekend”

  1. Fireworks went off big time in my area for several days; parties on the weekend made that the norm. They went to 2 AM for us and there is someone in our neighborhood who almost every day shoots something off. Neighbors try to be “good” neighbors by not asking them to stop or to report them; afraid of fall out I believe. We have a law in place but it is impossible to control; it would be nice if offenders were fined; maybe it would not be worth it if they had a penalty to pay; but I doubt.
    So here’s a question for all those shooting them off; what are you teaching your children; to pick the laws they will and will not obey???


  2. Whether it was to release pent-up tension and boredom, or an expression of the nationwide trend toward lawlessness, this year’s fireworks were out of control. It sounded like warfare with large guns all around town. Even our cat was terrified this year (along with our dogs) and she usually isn’t bothered by the noise. We need to figure out a way to promote compliance with the ban, including stiff fines.


  3. With zero consequences for disregarding the law, the bad behavior will continue. What is point of having an ordinance if it is not enforced. My animals truly suffer during this time and it is heartbreaking. Shame on the City of Edmonds for not penalizing citizens who have no respect for the law or their neighbors.


  4. I was just thinking shouldn’t we get rid of fines, some groups are disproportionately impacted by fines, so fines are racist. Also there are POC that are afraid of the cops so imagine the harm it is doing to have them come into contact with the police. In fact Police should not even be allowed to leave their station house, if people want self enforcement of a crime they committed they can go there to visit. All our houses sit on land that was once tribal and fireworks are allowed on tribal lands. Plus the law was likely written by a white male while watching Fox News. That’s it we need to repeal the ban on fireworks and provide a subsidy on future purchases to various communities based on the findings of a correct thinking board to make up for the prior harms we have done through our past silence.

    Think this sounds silly, imagine yourself describing today to the you of 10 years ago and imagine the you of 10 years in the future telling the you of today what the world looks like.


  5. If all you are ever going to do is give out warnings, what’s the point of wasting time talking about and raising fines? This is just feel good talk from the political side of this thing.

    The obvious problem is a lack of meaningful law enforcement, not the amount of a fine that is never given out anyway. Wake up people, and realize when you are just being stroked. We paid people at least $150.00 a shift to give out slaps on the wrist that are essentially meaningless to prevent anything.

    Like speeding, fireworks are fun, until they aren’t. Police don’t generally give out warnings for doing 85 in a 25 zone. They give out tickets to facilitate prevention of needless “accidents” to the extent possible. Like speeding, fireworks can cause bodily harm and needless destruction of property.

    Next year I recommend EPD announce in late June that there will be no warnings on fireworks this year. Tickets will be automatic in virtually all cases of illegal use. See if the noise abates a little, especially the following year after actually cracking down.


    1. I totally agree, Clinton. Here’s what I commented yesterday: “Most violators know that fireworks are illegal in our city. The only way to get their attention is thru their pocketbooks.”


    2. Most people think of fireworks as doing 30 in a 25. What percentage of even illegal use results in physical harm or property damage? Especially if you take out the incidents of malicious use like the kids that lit some in the school dumpster at 2:30am and the cases of people getting hurt by sparklers, which are legal. Having designated light up parks, big fines everywhere else and enforcement helps everything but the people that have issues with any noise that also happen to live close to the designated parks.


  6. I suggest that part of the problem is locating the violators. One or two – or eight – big bangs, and how are the police to know exactly where it was? They can’t be everywhere.

    I fully agree on how thoughtless, ridiculous, and disturbing at the July 3-6 bombardment was, but how practically to deal with it?

    I’m buying a canon so I can return fire next year. 🙂


    1. I think the answer must be to triple the fines for tickets you don’t give out, for whatever reason, and hope the problem finally goes away next year. The private booms won’t be so bad when we get the public ones back. This is the high level of reasoning that goes on here. Buy some ear plugs and move on.


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