On the morning of May 25, 2020 at 6:04 a.m. I woke up to read an article in our beloved neighborhood newspaper, The Suburban Times. The article was titled, Lakewood City Council reviews fireworks regulations. Click my link to refer back to the article and to gain access to a city LINK which allows you to send comments for or against the proposed ordinance to our city council.
I clicked the city link and sent my thoughts to our city council. My document to council with small edits is embedded below. The document speaks for itself.
COPY OF EMAIL TO LAKEWOOD CITY COUNCIL:
Memo To: Lakewood City Council
Date: May 25, 2020
Last year in 2019, the “pyrotechnic genius” on 116th St SW in Lakewood shot fireworks for days on end at all hours. Lacking the required skill to shoot fireworks, two of his fireballs (Roman Candles) shot over our fence and landed on our roof. These two fireworks devices were on fire when they hit our roof, creating a giant stain on our roofing material that we woke up to the next morning. Two of us could have died in our sleep.
Luckily for us, we had converted from a wood shake roof to a standing seam metal roof, so our house did not burn to the ground, nor was anyone injured or killed. We were also pleased the “fireworks genius” did not start a forest fire in the many fir trees in our neighborhood.
Remnants/trash from fireworks such as bottle rockets were scattered throughout our neighborhood, exposing at least three properties and their occupants to harm.
I was careful to be pleasant when I contacted my neighbor to share our concerns and ask him to stop the dangerous fireworks. He told me one of his guests was a policeman, and another was a fireman. They told him he could shoot all the fireworks he wanted in Lakewood.
We then called the police, but 911 claimed not to have enough law enforcement staff to respond to fireworks complaints. Fireworks complaints should come as no surprise to Lakewood City Council and the Lakewood Police Department.
City council should make sure our police department has appropriate funding for proper staffing to handle fireworks complaints, including enforcing the law and confiscating illegal fireworks. When I worked Lakewood, we had a specially dedicated law enforcement team to respond to fireworks complaints.
Lacking police protection, the City of Lakewood is promoting having its citizens take vigilante action. Vigilante action occurs when citizens deem law enforcement to be inadequate.
While I have a long history of supporting our Lakewood Police Department and will continue to do so in the future, last year the department was inadequate during the fireworks period.
Citizen anger, fireworks, and civilian guns are not a good mix. Ask yourself, “Should I let someone set my house on fire or should I fight back to defend my property?”
An adequate fireworks ordinance can prevent the devastation depicted in my photo below from occurring in the City of Lakewood if Lakewood City Council has the required backbone to do the right thing by eliminating fireworks in our city.
The ordinance should then be supported by enforcement. If the word spreads in our community that illegal use of fireworks is sure to bring consequences, then the dangerous behavior will stop.
My photo depicts the possible results of combining fireworks with a weak city ordinance and no law enforcement. One home, one motorhome, and one jeep destroyed along with the home’s contents.
Families victimized by injury, death, property damage, and devastation are not likely to wish the Lakewood City Council a Happy 4th of July!
I realize our council is only considering reducing the hazardous days from 4 days to 2 days and I thank you for that. The proposed ordinance will help, so I urge you to please vote YES.
Next, I would ask that Lakewood City Council create and pass an ordinance that eliminates all fireworks every day of the year.
While fireworks supporters will intensely disagree, know that outlawing products that year after year creates harm, is the right thing for Lakewood City Council to do. Then back your action with enforcement.
Interestingly the street sign in left side of my photo accentuates the fact that often fireworks can be a dead end.
In closing, I feel the need to be a devil’s advocate on one point with no desire to confuse Lakewood City Council.
If City Council chooses to allow fireworks on New Years’ Eve, the lawful hours should run from 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 a.m.
The peak excitement and celebration for the New Year are at 11:59 p.m. and 12:01 a.m., and running to not later than 12:30 a.m. That is when the Times Square Ball drops in New York City, the horns blow, and joyful and drunken citizens ignite fireworks. Happy New Year! I ask that this time extension be considered not for me, but for the fireworks exploding fun seekers. If fireworks are lawful on that day, 12:30 a.m. makes sense and it comes only once a year.
END OF LETTER TO LAKEWOOD CITY COUNCIL.
If you agree with my views, please send your own comments to Lakewood City Council. You can simply tell them you agree with Joe Boyle, which is quick and easy, or you can craft your own comments.
If you disagree with my views, please wait until after the council has voted on the ordinance before expressing yourself. Oh, wait a minute, that is not right. You still have freedom of speech, so feel free to tell our council why you disagree with Joe Boyle.
Comments to Lakewood City Council can be sent via email to City Clerk Briana Schumacher at bschumacher, or by mailing written comment to:
City of Lakewood
Attn: Briana Schumacher
6000 Main St SW
Lakewood, WA 98499
David Anderson says
“Next, I would ask that Lakewood City Council create and pass an ordinance that eliminates all fireworks every day of the year.” Like the Rental Inspection Program mandated that all landlords be no longer free to conduct business without the coersion of government under the guise of safety? Because of the neglect of some, all would pay the price? Even the fire department itself stated the primary cause of residential fires was not electrical, as the city maintained, but unattended cooking. But what was the result? Cooking classes? No. A RIP for all.
David M Newton says
The problem is an attending cooking burns your own place down. Fireworks burn other people’s places down. Fireworks have the potential to burn an entire community down. At least with a cooking fire, it’s somewhat contained, until the fire department can respond. A forest fire burning a neighborhood, not so much.
David Anderson says
The point I was trying to make was to challenge Boyle’s recommendation that fireworks be banned. Regulation and enforcement of existing laws is one thing, a ban is quite another. The Rental Inspection Program is analogous. Based upon the rental neglect of a few landlords, all were required to have their rentals inspected. Based upon the already illegal use of fireworks by some, Boyle is calling for a ban of all. Furthermore, the city presented its argument in favor of the Rental Inspection Program based upon a few instances of electrical wiring issues for which they showed a couple slides. Turns out the fire department stated by far the majority of residential fires were caused by unattended cooking.
Joseph Boyle says
The challenge is how do you separate the idiots from the responsible fireworks enjoyers?
If you cannot separate the brain dead from the intelligent fireworks enjoyers, then a ban is the best plan, in my opinion. There is no defensible requirement that we have fireworks. There are all kinds of reasons to not have fireworks.
Shannon Cariaso says
I agree with Joe Boyle.
Too dangerous with so many unskilled people popping off explosives (fire works). So much debris left behind that the perpetrators don’t clean up. So many burn marks on the grass and roof tops.
It won’t kill anyone to not have them. But every year it surely does cause harm to life, limb and property. The cost of a lost life is priceless. Regardless of what the insurance companies and some politicians say. We are asking for a modified behavior that we will all need to get used to.
I realize that we are not big money people and have a smaller voice because of this. Please don’t succumb to the businesses that are in it for the money, not the betterment of the people. We have more than enough of that going on these days.
I agree with Joe Boyle,
people have rights until they trample the rights of others. I have a right to sleep And not be assaulted by harmful, stress causing noise. But hey it’s not going to change because the city is making money on all those fireworks stands. Just like they sell ft Steilacoom Park to be a giant parking lot for a UP events or allow the park to be trashed for a bike race.
David M Newton says
The city not cleaning up the park after hosting an event there is a separate issue from the fireworks.
I swear we live in a kakistocracy.
Joseph Boyle says
Thank you for introducing me to the term kakistocracy. The definition certainly triggers thinking.
Robert Jarrett says
I agree with Joe Boyle. Once upon a time fireworks were a fairly benign method of celebration. But over time they have become more powerful, destructive and deadly. The fireworks set off in my neighborhood of Nyanza Park are not just firecrackers, ground blossoms and sparklers. They leave the ground, travel hundreds of feet into the air, and end up landing who knows where. That’s not to mention the concussion some of the big ones make when they blow up. They’re already “regulated” but that’s to no avail, because people just get the illegal fireworks elsewhere and bring them into the neighborhood, and there’s hardly any enforcement. For the health and safety of the entire community, fireworks need to be banned completely.
Great idea, take sething from everyone because a few people are irresponsible and inconsiderate. So, no more driving, smoking, drinking, eating, etc… You name it and someone will have an argument to not allow it. Good idea!
David M Newton says
the stuff you’re mentioning harms mostly yourself, except for the drinking. And we do have laws against drinking too much in public, or operating vehicles while drinking, or heavy machinery, and other regulations…
so your point really doesn’t make any sense here.
Fireworks have the potentiality to hurt other people including entire neighborhoods as it burns the whole place down.
you might feel strongly about your opinion, but it should be able to stand on its own without false equivalencies.
DANIEL J TOBIN says
I love fireworks but not the danger they bring , i have only lived here 3 years and 2 of the years my rescue dog is literally scared to death and hides from two weeks before the fourth and almost two weeks after the fourth an my poor baby’s inconsolable but i know there’s no hope and not enough enforcement. I hope maybe this year she will get used to it, never have seen a dog so sensitive lol said all i can say, loud indian fireworks are inevitable.
Linell Jones says
My home was burned down July 2, 2007 by bottle rockets on the roof. My yard has been set afire twice. I pick up spent fireworks all over my property every single year. Our city is filled with lost pet posters on July 5th. We have a city FILLED with vets and 2 psychiatric hospitals and I suspect there are a more than a few who have a horrid time dealing with the explosions. As an ER RN for 45 yrs I cannot begin to tell you all the human suffering caused by fireworks. Get drunk, blow off a few fingers or your own hand I have ZERO sympathy…it’s the innocent children and animals that are injured I reserve my feelings for. And after YEARS of reporting illegal fireworks, after YEARS of writing the city government I finally had to give it up as a lost cause. They do not give a damn. Not even a little.
Alan Hart says
I agree. Insufficient enforcement is not a valid reason. It is an excuse because adequate resources will not be committed to the issue.
Jason Whalen, Deputy Mayor says
Contrary to the opinions of some, it is because we DO care that your City Council Members are revisiting the fireworks issue–at the request of many residents. As folks might expect, however, there are many opinions on this issue–including some with the opinion that no matter what laws are passed, enforcement remains challenging. For instance, during one Council meeting on the issue, our police department shared a drone video obtained during the last 4th of July season. The sky was overwhelmed with “rockets red glare” from various jurisdictions, including those that have banned fireworks. In other words, more stringent laws, including a ban, may not necessarily result in perfect citizen behavior. That said, because of its importance to many, the Council has elected to move this issue to a future date in June (or later, as dictated by COVID restrictions) when more robust public comment may be received and heard in a noticed public hearing (COVID restrictions have made citizen public comment at Council meetings less robust, to say the least). Given applicable state law, which requires a year following the passing of any such local legislation to take effect, it is unlikely that the fireworks experience will change prior to July 2021. We do appreciate the input on the issue, as it helps inform final policy decisions.
” including a ban, may not necessarily result in perfect citizen behavior.”
Then how about a $1200 fine for shooting off illegal fireworks and a $500 reward for reporting such idiots. Citizen behavior is through the pocketbook to many.
Jessie Wilde says
I love fireworks – on the 4th of July, maybe new years eve, Chinese/Cambodian New Years. I support one day – 4th of July Fireworks, then other special occasions agreed to by the City who are wise enough to be culturally sensitive. Certainly not a week long explosion fest surrounding the 4th. That gets old July 5th!
I believe in supporting/funding our Fire Departments, and not putting unrealistic expectations on our Police Department. The Police should not be used for civil infractions, instead we ask them to keep us safe from actual criminals/felons. Let the police get to their serious business of stopping burglaries etc.
Let the fireworks be a celebration of community on the day they are meant for.
No problem for LEGAL fireworks. It’s the idiots that fire off the illegal ones.
Fred Block says
To our Deputy Mayor. This issue has been angering citizens for a long time. I urge the council members to consider it now. Continued delays just encourage citizens to take matters into their own hands.
To Jessie Wilde. I would argue that setting your house on fire is a police matter. Yes, enforcement is difficult but that does not change the obligation to protect and serve. I hope that when council considers an ordinance, they consider how easy it is to enforce.
Lynnette F Shureb says
It’s impossible to please a self-centered person. I see this whole issue as a failure to know who you are and why you are here. Why are you here? Ask yourself this question if you care.
Is it to be controlled by your selfish desires are more important than the well-being of your fellow human-beings?
There are so many laws that are passed and not enforced. Do you ever wonder why?
I guess they are passed to appease the citizens of the moneyed interests who influence with their wealth our elected representatives.
Basically if a law is not founded in ethics it inevitably must fail to do it’s intended purpose.
This above all- to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
I ask the City Council to have courage, trust Life after all it is running the whole show and it is bringing us all lessons to learn every day if we listen to our true self not the little fearful ego self and make a decision that is based in ETHICS then you can trust you did the right thing and stop this dangerous out worn tradition. After all not all traditions are scared are they?
The truth is transcendent every present and available once you understand the difference between your opinion, your belief about and the truth.
I once worked for an attorney who said “there is no law that is made that some attorney can not find a loop hole to get around the law.
Currently we are in a place in time where we are reaching a major shift in identity from the self-centered ego identity to our true identity of truth not belief.
The old traditions no longer fit. Of course there are those who are believers in the old traditions, the old ways but eventually they too shall pass away with their false self-centered identities and if any do survive maybe a thousand years from now or even 50 years from now they will look back on this epoch with perspective and wonder that there were people who put their childish, self-centered egotistical demands above the truth of life that is correcting this distortion.
Many believe but do not know that we all really like to say we live in the greatest nation and we have freedom but do we have and know freedom?
I say it is a rare experience to truly know who you are and why you are here and if you do, you know the truth of freedom that FREEDOM IS NOT A PASS OR A LICENSE TO PUT OTHERS LIVES AT RISK FOR SOME CHILDISH SELF-CENTERED, DISTORTED BELIEF ABOUT FREEDOM.
“Truth is beauty and beauty is Truth. That is all I know and all I need to know.”
“And yea shall know the Truth and the truth shall set you free.”
It was not said that you shall believe the truth does it? Belief is of the mind, Truth is of the Spirit.
We have a true identity centered in the truth and we can know it once we have the courage to let go of all our false beliefs about the Truth.
“It always seems impossible until it is done.” Nelson Mandela
Paul Nimmo says
It is widely known that I am against banning fireworks and support CONTROLLED use along with specific enforcement.
Bans only work on those that follow laws. In our civilization, we have tons of bans, called laws. We have banned murder, rape, theft, assault, drugs, and drug use… and yet they still happen, committed by those that do not share the same morals as those that follow the law.
For 28 years, I worked in Veterinary Facility in Tacoma. A large percentage of our pet parents lived within the City limits, where fireworks have been banned since 1992. At the end of June every year, I stocked up on our behavior & sedation medications as they would be needed because the ban worked so well.
I have empathy for those that complain of the loud explosions, concern about bottle rockets landing on roofs, and non-stop 24-hour use from mid-June through July 6th. However, there are already laws that limit type, day, and times.
No, I did not serve in combat thus do not have personal knowledge of PTSD. However, my father served in Korea (in combat) and he loved fireworks. We would gather at the end of the driveway, hose at the ready, can for the sparklers, and celebrate as a family.
I often hear “visit professional displays” in arguments. No problem. Have you tried to get in or out of Steilacoom on the 4th? Tacoma? If that is one of the arguments, I think that in any municipality that bans fireworks should provide a professional display for the citizenry.
The stands you see in Lakewood selling fireworks are run by local non-profits, who utilize the monies raised to support youth sport teams, churches etc. They pay sales tax and have to purchase permits. Yes, I am often told that this is not a good argument, trying to justify something bad with something good. How much does the State & City make off of alcohol taxes?
We know how the ban worked with alcohol. There is a whole chapter in every American History book on the subject of prohibition. So, we repeal the ban with controls, and we have lots of controls. Do not drink and drive, yet we build parking lots next to bars.
And bans worked so well on marijuana… that we legalized it and we taxed it.
It all comes down to enforcement. You can ban them and take away the sparklers and fountains away from the families that will follow the law, but those already not following the laws as currently written will continue to boom away. Or we can enforce the current regulations we already have on the books!
If I see anyone shooting fireworks outside of the hours, I might have to set up some Roman candles in the direction of their house and give them a taste of their own medicine
Gail Alverson says
Simple question for Joe, which kills and destroys more, fire arms or fireworks?
Gail Alverson you can’t compare fireworks and guns. Take your loonie leftism elsewhere.
Gail Alverson says
Resorting to name calling solves nothing. Because we have differing opinions doesn’t give anyone the right to try to be insulting, but I will consider the source.
Amelia Dodge says
I for one believe we should ban, then fine. Set up a special fund for the money received to go to those that have damage to their lives.
Your picture was taken off cirque drive in University Place and was NOT a result of fireworks. What are you trying to scare people for?
Joseph Boyle says
You are correct. My photo of the mass destruction was, to the best of my knowledge not the result of fireworks. Because I was not provided a copy of the fire cause report, I was careful to not say it was the result of fireworks. I never said that.
In fact here is what I said, “My photo depicts the possible results of combining fireworks with a weak city ordinance and no law enforcement. One home, one motorhome, and one jeep destroyed along with the home’s contents.”
What I am saying is the idiot who blew off illegal fireworks for hours with no law enforcement intervention, could have caused my home to look like my photo. My photo depicts, DEPICTS, or shows my readers what the result will look like if we allow, because of no or a weak ordinance combined with no enforcement, idiots to fire off illegal fireworks.
I apologize for referring to these citizens as idiots, but if they endanger and torch other citizen’s property, injure and kill innocent people, then I will call them anything I want.
One of our readers has informed us her home was burned to the ground on a past 4th of July, but I do not have a photo, so I used a photo I took to depict the issue.
If having your home burn to the ground does not scare you, then we would appreciate it if you would volunteer your home to be the one that burns, thereby saving the rest of us from this unnecessary and stupid behavior.
the police have real crime to actually take care of. the people that are inconsiderate of their neighbors and foolish with use will more than likely still be that way and a ban will strip people that have proper places to enjoy fireworks and use them appropriately!! so you punish the wrong people. Most police officers will say that it is the minority 10% of the population that are the ones that cause problems and the “law” doesn’t mean squat to them. I’m sick of people taking our liberties away for misdeeds of the 10%! that is just absurd and frustrating to watch the perpetual erosion which misses the target completely. In communist china in many cities they actually ban driving on streets so the people can use them to light New Year fireworks! I find it ironic that the “land of the free” is being upstaged by repressive regimes in freedoms and enjoying fireworks for 1 or 2 days a year!! sad commentary on many parts of the U.S.
David Anderson says
In response to Joseph Boyle: While there may be “no defensible requirement that we have fireworks” there are defensible freedoms here at risk with your proposal that all fireworks be banned.
How is it that, on the one hand, with regards the Rental Inspection Program you protest, at some length, government’s intrusion into rentals whereby because of a relative few landlords with property issues all landlords would be subject to inspection, and on the other hand because, as you call them, “the brain dead cannot be separated from the intelligent fireworks enjoyers then a ban is the best plan”?
You have more than once stated, as you did here July 18, 2016 that the City Council should “do the right thing by voting NO on the Rental Registration & Safety Inspection Program, but please continue to search for a solution to the hideous slumlord problem that is effective and fair without harming innocent parties.”
You did not toss all landlords into the rotten apple barrel because of “the hideous slumlords” but rather urged an equitable solution.
And yet with regards fireworks, because of “the brain dead” all such celebrations – you are urging the City Council – should be banned.
Joseph Boyle says
Thank you for sharing your view.
The difference between the rental issue and the fireworks issue is the rental issue related to the RIP is a violation of our 4th Amendment to our US Constitution.
Fireworks are not protected by the constitution.
But allow me to throw in the towel and take your side for a moment.
If the City of Lakewood can provide heavy enforcement to separate those who are enjoying legal fireworks from the idiots who break the law by using illegal and dangerous fireworks, then I agree with you. A total fireworks ban is not required.
Enforcement should include, confiscation of illegal fireworks, issuance of criminal citations directing the violator to attend court with a specific date in the future, (Note: Criminal citations = being arrested and then released with the promise to appear in court.) financial fines, and jail time for repeat offenders (2 strikes & you are out.)
With appropriate enforcement, the intelligent, thoughtful, law-abiding citizens among us will lose nothing and they can enjoy their freedom to terrorize their neighbor’s dogs.
After all, many dog owners terrorize their neighbors by allowing their dogs to bark 24-7 365. Maybe the dog vs fireworks issue is a draw.
Of course, there are exceptions where responsible dog owners suffer the brunt of fireworks.
David Anderson says
To be consistent – ideally – in your arguments for making decisions of some magnitude you would hopefully consider the value of not letting the exception determine the rule – whether it is a 4th amendment issue or a celebration of freedom, which, in both cases, some abuse.
You initially advocated in your original piece that very principle.
You wrote, “I realize our council is only considering reducing the hazardous days from 4 days to 2 days and I thank you for that. The proposed ordinance will help, so I urge you to please vote YES.”
Up to that statement I had agreed with you.
But then, in the very next paragraph you resorted to the same fallacy of which you accused the city. Namely that some abuse the privilege (exception), and therefore all should bear the consequences of a new rule that ensnares all.
It is not throwing in the towel to agree with me. It is rather ringing out the towel so as to discover what is equitably fair, not to mention legal.