MI permanent fireworks ban will begin next year

City council adopts ordinance regarding consumer fireworks at May 7 meeting.

Beginning next year, the sale and discharge of consumer fireworks will be permanently banned on Mercer Island.

Mercer Island City Council adopted the ban with a unanimous vote at its May 7 meeting.

Mayor Salim Nice put the ordinance in fast-track mode by asking council if there was a motion to forgo a second reading and take the proposed ban to a vote on May 7 instead of waiting until its May 21 meeting. The motion passed unanimously to set the stage for the vote.

According to a previous Reporter article, Eastside Fire & Rescue Chief Ben Lane and City Manager Jessi Bon signed an order on May 1 prohibiting the discharge of at-home fireworks this July 4 “due to extreme fire danger,” according to the city regarding the major issue with the Seattle Public Utilities primary water supply pipeline to the Island.

Consumer fireworks can still be sold legally on the Island this year from noon to 9 p.m. on June 28 and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 29 through July 4.

Speaking at the meeting, Lane noted about the situation: “I took an oath as a firefighter and continue that oath as a fire chief to protect life and property, and one of the most effective measures to do that is the preventative measure and I really feel like the fireworks ban is a step in that direction.”

Added Mercer Island Police Department Chief Ed Holmes at the meeting: “As more and more cities ban the fireworks — and I think we’re one of maybe two or three cities that allow fireworks outright — we just see more and more people coming here to light their fireworks, so the safety concerns just keep on growing for us.”

Holmes said he supports Bon and Lane in their recommendation for a consumer fireworks ban on the Island.

Since the ordinance is more restrictive than state law, said Bon, the city can’t implement the permanent ban until one year after its adoption. Professional public fireworks displays will still be permitted if they meet city code requirements. The city has a professional fireworks show planned for its Summer Celebration 2024 on July 13 at Luther Burbank Park, and such shows have a significantly lower impact to public safety and water resources, Bon said.

Councilmember Ted Weinberg posed the question about how would the permanent ban affect the Kiwanis and Lions clubs’ annual fireworks stand, which is a crucial source of their funding. Bon said that Kiwanis was informed of this year’s emergency ban and the city is in the process of arranging a meeting with Kiwanis and Lions to discuss fundraising opportunities with the city. The city has also circulated information regionally regarding the emergency ban with more messaging to come, Bon added.