Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue officials are concerned about potential fireworks-related fires as the Fourth of July draws near.
One of the most common fireworks-related fires that TVF&R crews respond to involve "spent" fireworks placed in a bucket or grocery sack that rekindle and spread to fences, decks, and even homes.
The best and safest plan is to attend a professional fireworks display and eliminate the risk altogether.
Instead of lighting your own legal fireworks, attend one of the professional shows in TVF&R’s service area:
• Cook Park, 17005 SW 92nd Ave. in Tigard
• Willamette Park, 1100 12th St. in West Linn.
Residents can drop off unwanted fireworks (illegal or legal) at any TVF&R fire station for disposal.
If you’re intent to use fireworks, 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.
Residents should purchase all fireworks at a licensed Oregon fireworks stand. Fireworks purchased by mail order or in the state of Washington or at Native American reservations may be illegal in our state.
Many firework-related fires are caused by careless use or improper disposal of legal fireworks. Even legal fireworks are dangerous and have caused injuries and burns to users, especially unsupervised children. This includes sparklers. They can reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees; wood burns at 575 degrees, while glass melts at 900 degrees (National Fire Protection Association).
TVF&R advises you to celebrate safely this year by following these safety 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 point or throw fireworks at people, pets, cars, or buildings.
• 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.
In an effort to help curb illegal activity, TVF&R firefighters will be driving through neighborhoods the evening of July 4 to share safety information. In addition, TVF&R personnel are participating in more than 20 community parades and activities, where they will distribute safety materials.
Law enforcement agencies will be patrolling communities to enforce laws related to the use of illegal fireworks in Oregon. Under Oregon law, officers can seize illegal fireworks and issue criminal citations, including reckless burning, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and more, with fines up to $500 per violation. People can be held civilly liable for damages resulting from improper use of any fireworks — legal or illegal.
Oregon law also makes parents liable for damage caused by their children and allows fire departments to charge for the cost of suppressing fires caused by fireworks. Additionally, the use of illegal fireworks constitutes criminal activity, and your insurance policy may not cover you if you engage in a criminal act that results in damage.
Individuals needing to report a fire or medical emergency should call 911; individuals wishing to report a nuisance or concern about illegal fireworks should do so via the non-emergency 911 number, 503-629-0111. These situations will be logged, passed on to local enforcement, and responded to as resources allow.