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Officials plan ahead for extreme fire danger

Ordinance would give Sandy Fire authority to ban fireworks

After an exceptionally dry summer, Sandy Fire District and the city of Sandy are developing regulations in case extreme warm, dry weather returns.

On July 1, Sandy Fire District announced a district-wide ban on fireworks because of the high level of fire danger, piggybacking on the ban issued by the North Cascade Fire District.

Now heading into winter season, the district looks to pass an ordinance giving itself authority to temporarily ban fireworks within district boundaries during extreme fire danger. The ordinance also will establish guidelines for enforcement and penalties.

“Hopefully we’ll never have to (ban fireworks) again, but it’s good to have something in place,” said Sandy Fire Chief Phil Schneider. “It just gives us a little more authority to have our own ordinance.”

The Sandy Fire Board of Directors conducted a first reading of the ordinance at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10, and plans to hold a second reading on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Following both readings, the board will vote on the ordinance by the first of the year.

At the Sandy City Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 16, councilors elected to have city staff draft an ordinance mirroring the one written by Sandy Fire that would reinforce the district’s authority to ban fireworks.

“I think they’re the most qualified to make that call anyway if the season is dry,” said Sandy City Manager Seth Atkinson at the meeting.

After some discussion on writing a higher fine into their own ordinance, councilors decided to follow suit and adopt the penalty as written by Sandy Fire. Both ordinances will set a $500 fine per violation of the ban, but enforcement is left to the Sandy Police Department.

“Last year, (enforcement) was honestly quite easy because of the ban,” said Sandy Police Chief Kim Yamashita. “It was easy to track and we had a lot of citizen compliance. To be honest, we didn’t write any tickets.”

Atkinson announced that city staff would draft a mirrored ordinance to bring before the council at its next meeting on Monday, Dec. 7.