STREET SMARTS - Know the rules before you light the fuse

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It is easy to become confused when trying to decide what our legal rights and obligations are concerning the discharging of fireworks. That is because the city of Walla Walla has different regulations than does College Place and Walla Walla County.

If you plan on discharging fireworks within the city limits of Walla Walla, the ordinance is fairly straight forward:

Fireworks may only be discharged on July 4 and only between 9 a.m. and midnight.

The following types of fireworks are not permitted inside the city limits:

Fireworks that travel more than 20 feet off the ground.

Fireworks that travel more than 15 feet along the ground.

Fireworks specifically designed to produce noise, such as whistles, booms, pops, crackles and bangs.

You will find Walla Walla's ordinance is far more restrictive than the county or College Place regulations which closely follow the regulations established by Washington State.

This allows for longer times to discharge fireworks as well as a greater variety of items that are legal to set off.

If you are planning on taking advantage of Walla Walla County's more liberal fireworks ordinance, remember that you must have permission from a property owner to set off fireworks in the county, and you are not allowed to set them off on County roadways.

Because a dog's hearing is 10 times more sensitive than a human's hearing, loud noises can hurt a dog's sensitive ears. Here are some helpful hints to help Fido get through the celebrations:

Keep him in his crate for the evening with a favorite chew toy.

Leave him at home. Dogs are not allowed at Pioneer Park on the Fourth of July.

Keep the television or radio on to provide some "normal" background noise.

Other suggestions from the Fire Departments:

Please use only legal fireworks.

Only use fireworks outdoors.

Do not throw fireworks or hold them in your hands.

Wear eye protection.

Never alter fireworks.

Light only one device at a time.

Never attempt to relight a firework that fails to light.

Keep water close by and soak fireworks after use.

Keep fireworks, matches and lighters away from children.

Because of the debris left around town in the past, the Police Department has made it a practice each July 5 to check neighborhoods for litter.

Officers will take pictures of debris fields and contact the resident where the debris appears to have come from to advise them to immediately clean up the mess.

Officers then check back to insure that this has been accomplished and may issue a citation to the homeowner for littering if the cleanup hasn't been completed.

Remember to be considerate to your neighbors. Many people would just as soon have fireworks banned in Walla Walla as it is in the Tri-Cities, Spokane and many other cities. The current ordinance is a compromise to allow limited personal celebration.

However, every year local fireworks result in fires, injuries and lost pets. So please be aware of this and pay attention to your fireworks and your pets.

If you have additional questions, please contact the appropriate agency where you intend to celebrate:

Walla Walla Fire Department at 524-4533

College Place Fire Department at 529-6506

Fire District 4 at 529-1282

Enjoy the holiday safely!

Capt. Gary Bainter is Patrol Division commander for the Walla Walla Police Department. He can be reached at gbainter@ci.walla-walla.wa.us or 524-4372.

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