Fire department offers warning as July 4 draws near

Firework stands opened last week and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue officials are reminding the public to “Keep It Legal, Keep It Safe” this Fourth of July.

“In the past three years, TVF&R has had 37 fireworks-related fires causing nearly $2 million in damage,” said Karen Eubanks, public information officer. “This is significant when you realize that fireworks are only on sale approximately one week out of the year.”

Statewide there were 26 injuries and $1.65 million in damage, she added.

Keep It Legal

Oregon law bans fireworks that fly, explode or move across the ground more than six feet or up in the air more than 12 inches. This includes popular items like bottle rockets, Roman candles, firecrackers and M80s. Fireworks purchased by mail order, or in the state of Washington or on Native American reservations, may be illegal in Oregon. To keep it legal, purchase all fireworks at a licensed Oregon firework stand or retail outlet, Eubanks said.

“Under Oregon law, law enforcement officers can seize illegal fireworks, and you can be fined up to $500 per violation,” she said. “You can also be held civilly liable for damages resulting from improper use of any fireworks — legal or illegal.”

In an effort to help curb illegal activity, TVF&R firefighters will conduct neighborhood visits on July 4, reminding individuals to use fireworks safely and the penalties associated with illegal fireworks. In addition, TVF&R deputy fire marshals will be present at public displays and will be riding with local law enforcement officers to assist with their enforcement efforts.

Individuals needing to report a fire or medical emergency should call 911; individuals wishing to report a nuisance or concern about illegal fireworks should call the non-emergency number at 503-629-0111. These situations will be logged and passed on to officers, and responded to as resources allow.

Keep It Safe

Many of TVF&R’s firework-related fires are caused by careless use or improper disposal of legal fireworks.

“Our fires involve both illegal and legal fireworks,” Eubanks said. “Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent safe.”

Help ensure your safety this year with the following tips:

  • Only adults should light or handle fireworks. Supervise children at all times.
  • Store fireworks, matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Use fireworks outdoors on a paved surface, away from buildings, vehicles and vegetation.
  • Never pick up or try to re-light a “dud.”
  • Never alter fireworks or make your own.
  • Have a hose nearby in case of fire and place “spent” fireworks in a metal bucket with water. One of the most common fires that TVF&R responds to involves “spent” fireworks placed in a bucket or grocery sack that rekindle and spread to fences, decks and homes.
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