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Mayor Charlie Hales

City of Portland Mayor Charlie Hales

Phone: 503-823-4120

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 340, Portland, OR 97204

Independence Day

WEDNESDAY, July 3, 2013 – Portland Fire & Rescue wants to take this time to remind Portlanders to enjoy their holiday safely and legally.

Fire Chief Erin JanssensEach year, people come together on the Fourth of July not only to celebrate America’s freedom, but also to spend time with family and friends, barbeque and maybe even set off a few fireworks. 

Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Erin Janssens said it’s easy to remember which fireworks are OK, and which cross the safety line. “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,” Janssens said. “These fireworks are illegal.”

Why are most fireworks illegal in Oregon?  It’s not rocket science: Oregon law states that fireworks outside the definition listed by the chief are dangerous and strictly limit the use of these to professional displays only. 

Illegal fireworks cause:

• Countless injuries including trauma and burns from unplanned explosions

• Reoccurring trauma to many returning veterans suffering the effects of their service to the nation

• Enormous property loss each year by causing fires to residences, landscape, and wildland

• Emotional trauma and anxiety to many small children and animals, who are especially vulnerable

• Environmental pollution, measureable in both air and noise

Portland Fire Commissioner Dan Saltzman said geography plays a role in the confusion. “In Portland, our difficulty is that many of the fireworks that are illegal in Oregon are legal in Washington and readily available to anyone who can drive across the Columbia River,” he said.

Given the physical, emotional, environmental, and economic costs, as the population becomes more aware about these real consequences, it will become increasingly clear that illegal fireworks in the hands of amateurs is no longer '”patriotic.”

“Of special note this year: with our recent extremely hot and dry weather, the risk of fire from both legal and illegal fireworks has increased,” Commissioner Saltzman added.

As in past years, Portland Fire & Rescue will conduct "Operation Lower the Boom" to address illegal fireworks.

“In addition to a public information campaign, we will work with Portland Police to confiscate illegal fireworks and fine offenders,” Chief Janssens said. “I encourage you to report illegal firework activity through the City’s non-emergency number, (503) 823-3333.” 

PF&R supports this time of celebration with our families and friends, and looks forward to watching the professional displays in our region. These displays are well planned events conducted by professionals in low-hazard areas.  People wishing to avoid the noise of these explosions can plan ahead to protect themselves and their loved ones.  However, people should be able to trust that their neighbors will obey the laws and not place them in jeopardy through this illegal activity. Also, for those intent on breaking the law, know that it is not safe to "go outside of the city." In addition to the physical risks and emotional anxiety, fireworks represent an enormous fire hazard to parks, forests, and the wildlife living there. 

“PF&R’s goal is to make the 4th of July safe and enjoyable for all,” Janssens said. “Please help keep your neighborhood safe and pleasant by not bringing illegal fireworks to Oregon, and educating the Oregonians you know about the law (and the dangers) before they buy illegal fireworks.”