Mayor to residents: Please don't light fireworks this year
Lacey Beaty is the mayor of Beaverton. Dacia Grayber is a firefighter who represents the Tigard area in the Oregon House of Representatives. They submitted this column on fire safety this Independence Day.
We are urging all residents of Washington County to refrain using any and all fireworks through at least July 9, 2021.
Washington County is no stranger to small gatherings of neighbors and families setting off fireworks. And while some community members enjoy using fireworks, they present multiple dangers. Household pets are often terrorized by the loud noises, and many pet owners turn to tranquilizers in an attempt to soothe the anxieties experienced by their furry friends. Moreover, many community members including veterans, those with PTSD, and others are re-traumatized by the sights and sounds of fireworks and threat of wildfires.
It has been less than one year since this region was blanketed in thick smoke and marked by orange skies that lasted for weeks due to nearby wildfires. Lives, homes, properties, and livelihoods were lost in those fires. Even for those who did not experience immediate, tangible losses, the impacts of stress were felt deeply. Most residents who were in the Portland Metro area in September 2020 will still remember how difficult it was to breathe outside. Outdoor activities were limited, community members who rely on opening windows at night to cool their homes could not do so, and our houseless population suffered in the smoky air. Our vulnerable elderly neighbors were especially endangered while the wildfires raged. Even though they were not caused by fireworks, the risk of repeating such an experience is just too great. Many residents will also remember the Eagle Creek Fire of 2017 that burned 50,000 acres over three months and was started accidentally by a 15-year-old boy using fireworks.
Just this week, neighbor cities Tualatin and Portland announced a ban on fireworks, joining a growing list of jurisdictions including Milwaukie, Clark County, Bend, parts of Eugene, and several cities in Southwest Washington. Other cities and jurisdictions have not yet had the opportunity to enact a ban. We all have to do our part. If you've purchased fireworks, and you live in Washington County, we are urging you to refrain from using them. We are all connected here across the region. The risk is too high, the consequences too great. It is our shared responsibility to take steps to prevent wildfires.
In a press release distributed by Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue on June 29, 2021, the special district urged people to "not use fireworks this year," and instead to "please consider attending a professional show, watching an event on television, or celebrating Independence Day without fireworks."
Local first responders and national guard persons have already been stretched thin due to the pandemic and the recent heat wave. This is a situation where the community can come together to prevent adding another tragedy to the list. We are urging you, no matter where you live in Washington County, to refrain from setting off fireworks — both legal and illegal fireworks.
If you would like to view fireworks safely, here are some professional shows nearby:
• Hillsboro Hops (fireworks after the baseball game), Hillsboro Stadium, 4450 NE Century Blvd, tickets $7-20
• St. Helens "Let Freedom Ring" at Columbia County Courthouse Plaza (events begin at 1:30 p.m.)
• Fort Dallas at Sorosis Park, 300 E. Scenic Drive, The Dalles (firework show begins at 9 p.m.)
• Beach/Bay Firework Shows: Rockaway Beach, Lincoln City, Coos Bay
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