This morning, Portland Fire Chief Erin Janssens announced a new number to call in order to report illegal fireworks and offered information on a burn ban in immediate effect.
Oregon law bans possession, use, or sale of any fireworks that fly, explode, travel more than one foot into the air or more than six feet on the ground. These fireworks are illegal. Fireworks not purchased from an approved vendor in Oregon are most likely illegal.
During peak fireworks periods, a new number 503-823-BOOM (2666) will be staffed by PF&R firefighters working with emergency dispatchers. If it is an emergency, such as a fire or emergency medical problem, as always, call 9-1-1. But to report illegal fireworks (without fire/injury), call 503-823-BOOM.
Having this specialized number helps on two fronts: by increasing the number of people who can take calls and help dispatch our teams of enforcement officers, we can better respond to this issue. Additionally, call takers at dispatch can focus more of their time dealing with emergency 9-1-1 calls.
Today, until further notice, based on the continuation of high temperatures and dry weather, we're placing a burn ban in effect for Multnomah County, including Portland. This will include no open fires, including any ceremonial and recreational fires. In Multnomah County, within the boundaries of Portland, Gresham, Corbett and Sauvie Island, follow these provisions:
- No fires, including recreational.
- BBQs in approved devices professionally designed and built for such use will be allowed, but not in any natural areas.
- Legal fireworks will be allowed, providing people exercise caution and follow safety protocols, such as:
- Use only in open areas over non-combustible surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt.
- Have water on hand to extinguish fire or to cool burns.
- Make a clean, metal bucket available to place expended fireworks.
- Never attempt to re-light a dud.
Note: If conditions were to change, ie, if we start to experience strong winds, this policy could evolve.
Illegal fireworks -- those that fly in the air, cause loud explosions and disseminate sparks or mortars over distances are banned -- and are always banned.
PF&R, working with our partners at the Portland Police Bureau, will be responding to calls of illegal fireworks, issuing citations and confiscating illegal fireworks. But we need your help: use the 503- 823-BOOM number to report.
This Fourth of July, we continue our fourth successful regional campaign to educate area residents about the problems illegal fireworks cause. We're also continuing our efforts with Portland Police to enforce the law by confiscating illegal fireworks and issuing citations to offenders.
The cost of citations for using or possessing illegal fireworks is significant: violators face steep fines can be held liable for any damages they've caused.
Over the past three years, we've issued 403 citations. Over the past two years, PF&R issued 282 citations totaling nearly $150,000 and confiscated over $100,000 worth of illegal fireworks, therefore keeping those fireworks out of our neighborhoods.
Another way the campaign is working is the number of fireworks caused fires is decreasing.
o We are in the fourth year of our campaign against illegal fireworks.
o The three years after Operation Lower the Boom was in effect saw a 30% decrease in the number of fires caused by fireworks during the period of June 23 – July 6, when compared to the three years prior to the campaign.
oThe three years after Operation Lower the Boom was in effect saw a 40% decrease in the number of fires caused by fireworks during July 4th, when compared to the three years prior to the campaign.
Portland Fire Chief Erin Janssens notes: "Fortunately as more people are becoming aware of the physical, emotional, environmental, and economic costs, it's becoming increasingly clear that illegal fireworks in the hands of amateurs are no longer a 'patriotic' act. I suggest to show our patriotism, fly U.S. flags, not fireworks."