It is illegal to sell or light fireworks in Seattle, and doing so can result in upwards of a $5,000 fine or even jail time in certain scenarios. But the law doesn’t stop tons of people from holding their own personal firework shows each Fourth of July—perhaps because it’s unlikely they’ll get caught.
Enforcement of firework use is difficult. In order for the Seattle Police Department to give out a citation, they pretty much have to witness someone “holding a match to a firework,” says SPD Detective Patrick Michaud.
“So it becomes extremely difficult for us to get out there and respond in time,” Michaud said, adding that SPD might be able to catch someone lighting up “if we’re lucky.”
And rather than give citations, officer are actually more likely to confiscate fireworks. But still, citations do happen, Michaud says, and they can cost upwards of $5,000, though that’s on the high end, and citations are more likely to hover around the $100-200 range.
Aside from fines, injuries and fires still remain a concern. There were 16 fireworks-related fires and 44 fireworks-related injuries in King County last year according to the 2016 Washington State Fireworks-Related Injury and Fire Report.
King County accounted for 61 out of 327—or about 19 percent—of the total firework-related incidents reported in Washington State last year. According to the report, numbers have dropped significantly since 2015, wherein 173 total firework-related incidents were reported in the county.
The Washington State Fire Marshall’s office says majority of those who get injured from fireworks are men aged 36 and over, but some boys as young as age 0-7 were reported as injured from fireworks, according to the report.
If you’re still itching to see some sparks this Fourth but not willing to take the risk of lighting your own, attend one of the many free Fourth of July events happening next week.
Still looking for a silver lining? Turns out Pop-Its! are legal in Seattle. Maybe that can satisfy your explosive fix.
And if you want to know in what cities firework are legal outside of Seattle, check out this list provided by the Washington State Fire Marshall.