Each year, people come together on the Fourth of July to celebrate America’s freedom with backyard barbeques, community parades, and for some, fireworks. However, 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. One challenge we face is that many of the fireworks that are illegal in Oregon are readily available to anyone who can drive across the Columbia to Washington, or place orders online.
Why are most fireworks illegal in Oregon? It’s not rocket science -- illegal fireworks cause:
- Countless injuries including trauma and burns from unplanned explosions
- Recurring trauma to many of our returning Veterans who are suffering from the effects of their service to our Country
- Enormous property loss each year by causing fires to residences, landscape, and wildland
- Emotional trauma and anxiety to many small children and animals
- Environmental pollution, measureable in both air and noise
I believe that as people become more aware of the physical, emotional, environmental, and economic costs, it will become increasingly clear that illegal fireworks in the hands of amateurs are no longer a 'patriotic' act. This Fourth of July, we are launching a media campaign to educate Portland residents about the problems illegal fireworks cause, and encourage them to “leave the big fireworks to the pros”. We are 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 has been increased this year so violators now face fines up to $1000.00 and can be held liable for any damages they’ve caused.
How can you help?
- Be a good neighbor; keep your neighborhood safe and pleasant by not bringing illegal fireworks to Oregon.
- Educate the Oregonians you know about the law (and the dangers) before they buy illegal fireworks.
- If someone you know has illegal fireworks, let them know they can turn them in at any Portland Fire & Rescue station or Portland Police precinct, without penalty.
- Report illegal firework activity (without fire or injury) through the City’s non-emergency number, (503) 823-3333.
- To view large scale fireworks, visit one of the many professional, permitted displays in our region
I support this time of celebration with our families and friends, and look 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 can hopefully 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.
I appreciate your support and hope you know that at PF&R, our goal is to make the 4th of July safe and enjoyable for all.
For more information, including links and flyers about illegal fireworks, please visit our website at http://www.portlandonline.com/fire/fireworks.
Portland Fire & Rescue