Council discusses citizen’s concerns about fireworks

Some citizens have complained about fireworks being setoff in their neighborhoods, so Councilman Rob Putaansuu had the issue placed on the agenda for the Sept. 17 city council work session.

Putaansuu said some citizens have concerns about fireworks and illegal fireworks.

“We have a big Fourth of July festival downtown and it’s a wonderful event,” Putaansuu said. “I just want to make sure that we don’t have a public safety concern. I don’t know if there is a problem.”

Resident Ellisa Whittleton, who attended last week’s work session, addressed the council July 9 about the unsafe environment she felt around her home July 4 because of illegal firework discharges.

She said fireworks discharged in public right-of-way is not allowed and is not enforced.

Police Chief Geoffrey Marti told the council from July 1-5 his department received a “surprising” low number of calls concerning fireworks.

“There were about 25 calls to the police department.” he said

Marti reported there were 13 calls on July 4 and 10 on July 5.

“Based on the numbers, I don’t see it as crippling for the police department,” he said.

Marti said CENCOM receives the calls and classifies them on severity.

“Some are nuisance, others are fire or personal safety calls,” he said. “A lot of the responsibility for a police response relies on the citizen. They have to articulate what the issue is.”

During his five years in the police department, Marti said he personally feels the severity of the problem has decreased.

“I don’t see the fireworks issue an overburden to my manpower, at this point, which is extremely limited,” he said.

Marti said during the Fourth of July event, he had three officers working the swing shift, three officers who came in a 9 p.m. and the four uniformed police reserve officers — who are in unpaid — for road closures, traffic and responses.

Putaansuu said there were more fireworks stands than last year.

Greg Rogers, South Kitsap Fire and Rescue fire prevention manager, said inside the city limits, there is no limit of fireworks stands. There were 13 fireworks stands set up this year during the Fourth of July.

“Some of this has to do with the Bethel annexation because some of the stands used to be in the county,” Rogers said.

There were only four fireworks stands in the county and three stands inside the City of Bremerton, according to Rogers.

He noted tribal fireworks stands have no legislative requirements and are open June 1 to the mid-July. Tribal fireworks can only be set off on tribal land.

Rogers said SKFR can provide firework safety material, which the city can send out in their monthly bills.

Councilman Fred Chang said he feels a lot of incidents are unreported because residents don’t feel its important enough to call 911.


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