SALEM – This year, fireworks displays will be limited to what people can buy and put on themselves due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings.
The Office of State Fire Marshal, fireworks retailers and other state agencies from natural resources to public safety ask that people remember to use fireworks in a safe and legal way this July Fourth holiday.
The 2020 Oregon fireworks retail sales season runs through July 6 this year.
“In Oregon, consumer legal fireworks can only be purchased from permitted fireworks retailers and stands,” says State Fire Marshal Jim Walker. “State regulations limit where those fireworks may be used. Starting in July, risks for wildfire in many parts of Oregon will be high. Fireworks can also start structural fires that threaten lives and property, as we have seen in past years.”
Those visiting public lands and parks for the July Fourth holiday should keep in mind that the use of fireworks is prohibited in national parks and forests, on Bureau of Land Management lands, on U.S. Fish and Wildlife properties, on state beaches, in state parks, and in state campgrounds.
For residents who purchase legal fireworks, the OSFM encourages everyone to practice the four Bs of safe fireworks use:
• Be prepared before lighting fireworks: keep water available by using a garden hose or bucket.
• Be safe when lighting fireworks: keep children and pets away from fireworks.
• Be responsible after lighting fireworks: never relight a dud. Wait 15 to 20 minutes then soak it in a bucket of water before disposal.
• Be aware: use only legal fireworks and use them only in legal places.
Oregon law prohibits the possession, use, or sale of any firework that flies into the air, explodes, or travels more than 12 feet horizontally on the ground, without a permit issued by the OSFM. Fireworks commonly called bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon, without a permit.
The fire marshal reports that for the last five years through 2019, there were 1,173 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon, resulting in more than $4.9 million in property loss and contents damage. During that period, fires resulting from fireworks resulted in one death and 36 injuries. The data from structural fire agencies do not include incidents that occurred on federal and other state lands.
Police may seize illegal fireworks and charge offenders with a class B misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of up to $2,500 per violation and a civil penalty of up to $500. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damage. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children.
“All of us share the responsibility to use only Oregon consumer legal fireworks and use them carefully,” adds Walker. “Please also consider your neighbors and their pets before deciding on when and where you choose to light legal fireworks.”
For more information about the sale and legal use of consumer fireworks, permits for the retail sale of fireworks, and state rules for their use and enforcement activities, go to www.oregon.gov/osp/sfm.