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Home » Archives » October 2010 » LETTERS ON BAN OF SAFE & SANE FIREWORKS

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Hodgkin & King Agree On A Safe & Sane 4th
To the Editor:

Helen King and I are agreed that the Fourth of July should be a time not only of enjoyment and celebration but also of safety to people and property, avoiding any injuries or property damage from the use of celebratory devices.

We disagree on whether the "safe and sane" fireworks which are currently permitted in San Juan County, but would be banned by the proposed ordinance to be voted on by the people, represent such a danger.

For those who are unsure about this, a quick search on the Internet will make clear that "safe and sane" fireworks can be and have indeed been responsible for both personal injury and property damage -- homes destroyed, children injured. These devices are not benign.

It's up to the voters, as it should be. Is the documented risk of property damage and personal injury worth the enjoyment some people, including children, get from letting off these fireworks? You know both sides of the issue. It's time to decide.

Christopher Hodgkin
San Juan Island
Ban "Safe & Sane" Fireworks? No, Vote To Reject the Ban

To the Editor:

In the letter addressed to me, Christopher Hodgkin [see letter below -Ed] made three points, and I agree with all of them. I see no threat to any of his points in what is currently allowed by the State of Washington.

The County does not need to go further and ban sparklers, pinwheels, snakes and small cones, These things are not prohibited currently by the State but are NOT allowed in the new Ordinance for San Juan County. By the way, you live on San Juan Island. Not all islands have public displays on the 4th of July.

Please read my letter to the Guardian again [letter is below the Hodgkin letter -Ed].

I too want safe 4th of July displays
I too do not want to endanger anyone or anyone’s property
I too am opposed to anything that generates noise

This is the WA State law regarding fireworks:

RCW 70.77.126Definitions -- "Fireworks."

"Fireworks" means any composition or device designed to produce a visible or audible effect by combustion, deflagration, or detonation, and which meets the definition of articles pyrotechnic or consumer fireworks or display fireworks.

Except as authorized by a license and permit under subsection (1)(b) of this section or as provided in RCW 70.77.311, no person may discharge display fireworks at any place.

RCW 70.77.488 Unlawful discharge or use of fireworks -- Penalty.

It is unlawful for any person to discharge or use fireworks in a reckless manner which creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person or damage to the property of another. A violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor.

Vote to reject the current ban on all fireworks and allow only safe and noiseless displays allowed by the current Washington State Laws

Helen Chapman King
San Juan Island
Give Me A Break

To the Editor:

Helen King asks "Do you really want to ban all sparklers, pinwheels mounted on sticks, or fountains types of fireworks for everyone in the San Juan Islands on the 4th of July?" [letter below -Ed]

Yes, Ms. King, I do. For several reasons.

First is the danger they present to my home and my family. Just last year there were several house fires started in Seattle by "safe and sane" fireworks. Families lost their homes, their belongings, their precious memories because somebody couldn't just enjoy the public fireworks but insisted on setting off their own legal whizz-bangs. I can only imagine the devastation if somebody inadvertently started a fire in our neighborhood of homes, tinder-dry trees and underbrush. I know, everybody says "I know how to set them off safely, I won't start a fire." But the fact is that every year they DO start numerous fires, and peoples lives are devastated. That's too high a price to pay for one selfish individual's momentary thrill.

Second is the danger to people, especially children. Every year children are maimed, blinded, lives ruined by fireworks. Oh, I know, you are sure you won't let that happen. But it does happen, and you know it and I know it and emergency medical personnel know it and, most important, the children and families affected know it all too well.

Third, I don't know whether you have any pets, but I do, and they have been terrified by the fireworks neighbors have set off in the past. I know of several pets in our neighborhood who in past years have been so frightened that they jumped over or ran through fences and escaped to try to find some respite. Fortunately none yet has been killed by a passing car, but it's only a matter of time. Is your little pleasure in setting off a firework worth terrifying a dumb animal who has no idea what is going on? You may think so; I don't. (And I can just imagine how fearful the deer in our neighborhood and the other animals are.)

Enjoy the fireworks shows that every island sets off for your pleasure, but support the ban and keep our homes, our children, our pets, and our animal friends safe from this totally needless threat.

Christopher Hodgkin
San Juan Island
Give Me A Break: Reject The Ban on Safe & Sane Fireworks

To the Editor:

Come on folks! This is just too much intrusion of local government on our rights!

Do you really want to ban all sparklers, pinwheels mounted on sticks, or fountains types of fireworks for everyone in the San Juan Islands on the 4th of July?!

These types of fireworks are not noisy and a not dangerous with parental supervision. Don't take away this 200 year old patriotic tradition on the 4th of July. The current Washington State Laws outlining what fireworks are banned should be sufficient for the San Juan Islands.

Many who live here don't want to travel late at night to see the giant displays of fireworks at Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor Resort, or Lopez Island and simply want to celebrate at home or on a nearby beach as they have done in the islands for generations. For many years those on Blakely Island and other islands here gather on the beach for a 4th of July celebration at the end of the day with the magic of circling sparklers and cones in the dark with their children. "It's called a safe and sane 4th of July"

The previous ballot measure banning ALL fireworks was misleading in the wording and Superior Court Judge Don Eaton agrees and has allowed you to vote once again with the current ballot to lift that ban and let us have only those fireworks currently not prohibited by our State laws.

We want to restore our right to have safe, non-noisy, fun patriotic displays with our friends and families and to continue those memorable traditions.

Please vote to REJECT the current ban on fireworks Referendum 2008-2 on your ballot, (lower right corner).

Helen Chapman King
San Juan Island

Reject the Ban

To the Editor:

It {Independence Day} ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore." -John Adams, 1776

Fireworks have been as much of an island family tradition as parades, picnics, barbeques, and baseball. The first Americans used fireworks displays to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1777. This was 6 years before they even knew the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

Voters should keep the celebration of Independence Day alive by rejecting the fireworks ban. The law now allows safe fireworks one day each year. This is not about exploding things. Firecrackers are illegal. It is about celebrating our independence with safe traditional patriotic fireworks displays one day each year.

We need leaders who will work vigilantly to protect our freedom instead of taking it away from us incrementally. We must remember that we are the creators of our own freedom not government. With our freedom comes the responsibility to use it wisely and safely. Islanders have always done this. We should teach our children the lesson of Independence Day so they will never forget where their freedom comes from. If we choose to illustrate this lesson with beautiful bright and safe fireworks displays on our private property we should not let our local government to interfere. Please vote to Reject the Ban!

Gordy Peterson
San Juan Island

To the Editor:

The bigger fireworks you buy at the reservation aren’t legal -haven’t been in quite some time, and are not the subject of Referendum 2008-2. Referendum 2008-2 is about the subsequent banning of safe and sane fireworks. You see, in 2008, an ordinance was passed banning all fireworks in San Juan County (without a permit).

Yes, all fireworks in San Juan County -including sparklers, pinwheels and those crazy smoke balls and snakes. Remember the thrill you got as a kid when you got to hold your first sparkler? I do. And I remember the anticipation and excitement of all the kids and the cousins each year waiting for nighttime to arrive on the Fourth of July when the parents would finally say "okay now its time”. “now you can get the box”. “Let it begin!” Sure, its chaotic and crazy and the dogs go a little nuts. But this is America.

This is our one day a year when we can celebrate Independence Day with safe and sane fireworks. Of course it goes unsaid, we need to be careful, and we are. We teach the kids the rules of how to play safe. I believe in independence, freedom and safe and sane fireworks. Don’t let the County protect us from ourselves.

Please join me to REJECT the ordinance banning safe and sane fireworks on the one day a year it is legal -The Fourth of July.

Stephanie Johnson O’Day
San Juan Island
Reader Supports a vote to REJECT The BAN on SAFE & SANE Fireworks

Dear Editor,

It's been a long held American tradition to light fireworks on the Fourth of July. If the current ban remains we won't be able to keep that tradition going through each generation.

My question is: why ban them if we haven't had any accidents or fires in San Juan County with personal fireworks?

Whenever I light my fireworks, I make sure the ground under them is pretty wet so no fire will start. I don't hold them in my hand or light them with my head over them. When I'm done I pick up the debris and throw anything that might be hot or on fire in a bucket of water. And my parents are always nearby.

I think fireworks should not be banned in San Juan County. Please vote to REJECT the ban and preserve our American tradition.

Connor Brown
Age 12
Friday Harbor
"Join me in voting to REJECT the ban" on hon SAFE & SANE Fireworks

To the Editor,

This fall we will have our first chance to use the “initiative and referendum” portion of the county charter. We will vote to decide on use of “Safe and Sane” fireworks in the county. Currently, sparklers, snakes, and small fountains are banned by vote of the County Council. This was done in the name of safety but in doing so; I feel that the council has traded island family’s freedom of choice for the illusion of safety. We live in an uncertain and risky world. Along with celebrating a national holiday, children begin to learn to manage some of that risk by learning to use fireworks responsibly.

Precisely because fireworks are attractive and there is some manageable risk involved with using them, the lessons are more effective. The family fireworks also become a tradition and the smoke punctuates the celebration in a way more passive displays cannot accomplish.

Join me in voting to REJECT the ban on family fireworks this November and allow the sight and smell of patriotism and tradition to linger over our backyards and barbeques next 4th of July!

Greg Hertel
San Juan Island

Tom Bauschke
John Evans
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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