Scappoose limits fireworks to July 2-6 and New Year's
Scappoose has officially banned fireworks outside of a few days surrounding Independence Day and New Year's Eve.
City councilors approved a resolution restricting firework use at the council's June 6 meeting.
The resolution said that legal fireworks can only be used within city limits between July 2 and July 6 and on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
Fireworks are not permitted in city parks or other city properties, in an effort to keep fireworks off grassy areas that could easily catch fire.
Scappoose officials will also "work collaboratively with the Scappoose Rural Fire Protection District to keep the city of Scappoose, and its residents, safe from the fire and life-safety threat that legal and illegal fireworks present," the resolution stated.
City attorney Peter Watts said that the resolution would allow City Hall to "coordinate with the fire department to deputize them for a limited duration to help us with enforcement."
Alexandra Rains, Scappoose city manager, said police officers can issue citations and seize illegal fireworks, and there have been discussions about extending that ability to firefighters so that they could do the same.
"What's been shared with me is that these can be difficult to issue citations for because a lot of the time, by the time you get there, the person's gone, or they're not lighting fireworks off," Rains said.
Even when fully staffed, the police department only employs seven patrol officers. Right now, Scappoose only has four patrol officers in addition to the police chief and two sergeants, meaning resources are spread thin.
"We're aware of one or more people that consistently have been using illegal fireworks and we would be writing to them in advance of the holiday to let them know about this enforcement to make sure that they were aware of the rules," Watts said.
Rains said the resolution was "definitely meant as a first step."
"At one point, there had been some discussion about passing an ordinance. We didn't really have enough time to work through that kind of a process. So, we thought that this was important to put out there and put it in writing and start the conversation with the fire district — which we have done," Rains said.
Other cities and counties have banned or limited the use of fireworks as climate change increases the risk of fires starting and spreading.
Portland banned the sale and use of fireworks within city limits in March. Fireworks were banned in Oregon's largest city last year under an emergency declaration.
In April, Clackamas County considered a temporary ban on fireworks during high-heat periods in unincorporated parts of the county, but commissioners declined to enact the ban.
Oregon prohibits "fireworks that fly in the air, explode, or behave in an uncontrolled and unpredictable manner" without a permit, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Professional fireworks displays anywhere in Oregon require permits and safety measures.
But Oregon's neighbor to the north allows most fireworks to be purchased and used without a permit. Purchasing fireworks that are illegal in Oregon requires only a quick trip across the river to Washington.
People who use illegal fireworks in Oregon can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in a fine as high as $2,500 and a civil penalty up to $500.
As soon as police officers — or firefighters, if deputized — see an illegal firework used, "they can then seize the illegal fireworks, and hopefully that would make (the person using the firework) find somewhere else besides the city of Scappoose to engage … in their activities," Watts said.
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