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Will fireworks be banned in Benton County next year? Commissioners have a plan

Time : 2022-03-14 Hits : 4

Locust Grove fire

A drunk man setting off fireworks reportedly sparked this 20-acre fire south of Kennewick in 2018. 

BENTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE


    Benton County could ban fireworks in unincorporated areas around the Fourth of July — but only if the Southeast Washington area is considered to be

at “extreme” fire danger risk. County commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance last week 

allowing them to prohibit shooting off all types of fireworks starting in 2023 between June 28 and 

July 5. The ordinance goes into effect a year from now, meaning no changes are likely thisupcoming summer. Starting summer 2023, commissioners 

will decide if the ban is warranted based 

on how dry the environment is. A ban would effect only those living in “unincorporated” parts of 

the county, not those living within a city limits. Richland, Kennewick, West Richland, Prosser and 

Benton City have their own fireworks regulations.


The decision will be based on the region’s “Energy Release Component” — a composite 

moisture index fire managers use to measure the fire danger potential of a season. Washington

 State Department of Natural Resources, as well as other state and federal land managers, 

measures an area’s energy release value on a scale from 0 to 17, with 0-3 being “low”

 risk for fire danger and 17 being an “extreme” risk. If Benton County’s level meets or exceeds 

17 around the week of June 19, the new ordinance would allow commissioners to enact an outright

 ban on fireworks for the upcoming holiday.


Benton Fireworks Graphic 1

This presentation slide defines the levels at which fire danger is determined under the Energy 

Release Component composite fule moisture index.

County commissioners will ultimately be the ones to make the call on whether a ban goes into 

effect, said Benton County Fire Marshal Clark Posey.


The region has only twice reached Level 17 in the last decade — in 2015 and just this last summer.

 Record-breaking heat and an extended dry spell last year resulted in dozens of fires calls in the 

around the Tri-Cities last Fourth of July.


The new ordinance gives Benton County commissioners that flexibility they need to be able to 

lessen that danger and act proactively, he argues. Posey said he also realizes the obvious difficulties

 with enforcing such bans. But at the same time, the ordinance would do some good in cracking

 down on the worst offenders in Benton County. “Even the chiefs realize it’s going to be hard to 

enforce, but at least it’s going to be an avenue to enforcement,” he said. FIREWORK POLICIES 

IN THE TRI-CITIES Kennewick, Prosser, Connell and unincorporated Franklin County have all banned

 firing off private fireworks. That includes the portion of Franklin County that’s surrounded by 

Pasco that’s referred to as the “donut holes.”

Pasco, Richland, West Richland and Benton City all allow fireworks around the Fourth of July 

holiday, but they limit the types of fireworks and most forbid aerials. In Richland, Benton City 

and unincorporated Benton County, such as Finley, people are limited to sparklers, fountains and 

novelty snaps. Ground spinners and smoke devices are not allowed. Pasco also has limits on the type 

of fireworks that can be shot off. RELATED STORIES FROM TRI-CITY HERALD LOCAL ‘Spectacular’ 

changes for July 4 show in Kennewick. But the best view may cost more FEBRUARY 14, 2022 11:45 AM


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