AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. - Fireworks are banned in the city and county of Spokane with few exceptions. One of the exceptions is Airway Heights, which allows fireworks but with some tight restrictions.
Wednesday is an exciting day in Airway Heights as, at 8 a.m., fireworks stands in the town were allowed to legally open for business. As the stands get ready to open the Airway Heights Fire Department made their rounds to conduct fireworks stand inspections.
Back in 2011 the residents of Airway Heights with waking up on July 5 countless spent fireworks, garbage, destruction mostly caused by people that don't live in town.
"Everybody from Spokane County that couldn't light fireworks off would come to Airway Heights, they would bring all sorts of fireworks, then set them off and not really care what's going on and then just leave," Assistant Chief Doug Bonstrom with the Airway Heights Fire Department said.
So the town changed the municipal code so that fireworks can only be used on private property with the owner's consent.
"Since the restrictions we have been able to cut back from a mandatory staffing date to just pretty much the on duty crew maybe a couple of extra that want to com in and work and we have been able to handle the incidents.," Fire Marshall Nate Whannel said.
Ride shotgun on inspections with Whannel for a while and you'll see this fire marshal cares deeply about the community he serves. His first stop Wednesday morning was the TNT Fireworks stand. During his inspection Whannel points out some minor things the vendor agrees to fix right away.
"As far as the fireworks go they are all legal safe and sane and ready to be used here for hopefully a fun and safe Fourth of July," he said.
His next stop is the Lions Club stand, manned by Jerome Hood, who remembers the good old days of fireworks sales.
"Spokanians come out here and did their fireworks. So now that you have got to know somebody in Airway Heights and have a private property," he said.
A small dip in sales but even Hood admits he doesn't live in Airway Heights and hasn't had to deal with the mess, and the Airway Heights Fire Department is happy they don't have to deal with firework graveyards anymore.
"With the rules now you are using somebody's property, you're a little bit more careful with what you do because you know the people and it is more of a family event rather than just a free for all," Bonstrom said.
In Spokane County, fireworks are legal on private property in Airway Heights, Medical Lake and Deer Park. Bottle rockets, missiles and firecrackers are illegal everywhere in Washington state.
Over in Coeur d'Alene non-aerial fireworks are allowed on private property but not in public places like Tubbs Hill or City Park.
Remember that in Spokane, breaking the fireworks law is going to run you more than $500 and in many communities like Airway Heights its also a criminal misdemeanor.
For more information on fireworks restrictions in your area click here.
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