Good luck getting a personal fireworks permit

fireworksWhen the Vancouver City Council voted Oct. 5 to ban personal fireworks starting in 2017, Councilor Anne McEnerny-Ogle pointed out that even with a personal fireworks ban, the public still could apply for a special city permit to hold a fireworks show.

That comment, published in The Columbian the following day, probably sparked joy in some hearts and fear in others.

It prompted a couple of citizens to contact the city, thinking McEnerny-Ogle’s remark indicated a loophole in the fireworks ban.

“This is a misperception,” City Manager Eric Holmes stated in an email Friday.

City Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli set the record straight in an Oct. 12 memo to city administrators.

“It is unlikely that an application for a permit to discharge personal fireworks in a residential neighborhood would be granted,” Scarpelli wrote. “All public displays shall meet extensive state and local permit requirements.”

The requirements have been in place for decades. Probably the most stringent rule is that the show be put on by a professional pyrotechnic operator and at least one experienced assistant. In addition, under state law, the applicant would need proof of having either a surety bond or public liability insurance of at least $50,000 for bodily injury liability for each person and $1 million for each event, and at least $25,000 for property damage liability.

Before granting the permit, the city Fire Marshal’s office would visit the proposed discharge site to see if the show might pose any danger to life and property resulting from “fire, explosion and panic.” If the permit were granted, there would be pre-testing of devices before the show. Lastly, on the day of the show, wind and weather conditions would be taken into account before final approval.

In summary: Getting a permit for a fireworks display for you and a few neighbors is pretty unlikely unless you’re highly motivated and can afford to hire a pro and buy insurance.

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