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Know the rules: Local fireworks regulations

Many cities in the Rogue Valley banned fireworks after the 2020 fire season. Medford and Jackson County allow “legal” fireworks.

With Fourth of July just around the corner, local residents are gearing up to enjoy festivities while juggling concerns about fire danger heightened by ongoing drought and other variables.

It’s a tough combination, local cities and fire officials admit. While countless friends and neighbors are still recovering from the 2020 Almeda fire and local property owners are grappling with water shortages and dry vegetation, others are eager to buy fireworks and celebrate with sparklers and other fireworks.

Even the Phoenix High School band, many of whose families were ravaged by the Almeda fire, relies on fireworks sales at its local stand for band travel and other expenses.

Local fire officials urge common sense and ask people to err on the side of caution when using “legal” fireworks — and to not to be tempted to use the illegal types.

Several cities and towns banned fireworks after the 2020 fire season, including Phoenix, Talent, Ashland, Gold Hill, Shady Cove and Jacksonville.

Fire District 3 Fire Marshal John Patterson said most local fire departments and districts will beef up staffing surrounding the July 4 holiday.

“In Fire District 3, we default to the state rules for the most part, and the types of fireworks anyone can buy is pretty consistent across the state,” Patterson said.

“The best advice we can give is to just be responsible. Find a good safe area to light off fireworks, be as safe as possible, and follow all the precautions. Stay away from combustible vegetation and have a water source available, whether it’s a hose with a nozzle or buckets of water.”

Patterson said a fair share of fireworks-related accidents happen when fireworks are lit by underage participants.

“The biggest issues we see are when kids get a hold of fireworks, just before or in the days after (July 4). They think, ‘That was fun, here’s some leftovers we can shoot off,’” he added.

While more and more families will skip personal fireworks this year for hosted shows — like those in Central Point and Eagle Point — Patterson said those set on using personal fireworks are invited to join forces at a “community firework display area,” hosted by District 3 at The Expo.

“We did it a few years ago, before COVID, and it was a huge success. Everyone can bring a small pile of fireworks and set them off and then sit around and enjoy everybody else’s, too,” he said.

“We just want everyone to have a good time but to be safe in however they choose to celebrate.”

Here’s a list of rules from various governments.

Oregon

State law allows “consumer legal fireworks” to be purchased from permitted fireworks retailers and stands from June 23 to July 6. Oregon law prohibits the possession, use or sale of any fireworks that fly into the air, explode or travel more than 12 feet horizontally on the ground (without a special permit).

Examples of illegal fireworks include bottle rockets and Roman candles. Oregonians caught using illegal fireworks can have their fireworks seized, be fined up to $2,500 per violation and can be held liable for property damages and fire suppression costs.

Fireworks are prohibited on all beaches, state parks and state or federal lands. For more state info, see www.oregon.gov/osp/programs/sfm/Pages/Fireworks.aspx

Jackson County

County officials encourage residents to forego personal use fireworks in favor of hosted shows. If weather conditions become dangerous, county officials said they may coordinate a request asking citizens to voluntarily avoid using of fireworks.

Medford

Legal consumer fireworks are permitted in the city of Medford between July 1 and July 6. Prohibited areas include wildland hazard areas (hills east of Foothill and North Phoenix Road), the Bear Creek Greenway and in any city park or public school.

Cities that follow state guidelines permitting “legal” fireworks include Rogue River and Eagle Point.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.