Kelso Councilman Jim Hill is out to limit fireworks again, and this time he has an ally: Councilman Mike Karnofski.
Hill told The Daily News Wednesday that he and Karnofski are jointly proposing an agenda item for the Tuesday’s council meeting to reduce fireworks purchasing and discharging to three days during the Fourth of July. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in Kelso City Hall.
“I’m a Vietnam vet, and it’s pretty traumatic,” Hill said. “It’s not the scheduled events (such as Go 4th) that are disturbing. It’s the period of time when it’s uncertain. When you’re sleeping and they startle you, it really ramps your anxiety level up.”
Fireworks can harm people with asthma, cardio conditions and post-traumatic stress disorder, Hill said. And they can be “torture” for both pets and the pet owners who watch them suffer.
Under current law, residents can purchase and discharge fireworks from June 28 to July 5. Hill and Karnofski would like to see that time frame reduced to July 3-5.
Hill said he’d also like to ban personal fireworks that are detonation-only aerial devices. (He said his proposal would not apply to public shows such as the Independence Day fireworks display at Lake Sacajawea.)
Karnofski said he supports Hill’s proposal because he’s heard more complaints from neighbors this year than last year.
“I’m not interested in a total ban, but Jim has come up with a good compromise to limit fireworks. I thought it was a good opportunity to have a public discussion,” Karnofski said Thursday.
Hill has been pushing fireworks restrictions for about a decade, with very little success. Two years ago, both the Kelso and Longview councils rejected Hill’s proposed fireworks restrictions.
But Hill thinks this time is different.
“People have just had it,” he said. “But we have to have some common ground. We have to meet folks that enjoy personal use. … It’s just asking folks to be responsible to their neighbor.”
Police chiefs in the past said it’s difficult to enforce fireworks restrictions because by the time officers get to the scene, usually the crime is over and the evidence is burned up.
However, Hill said, reducing the number of days when fireworks can be sold will reduce the length of time during which people detonate them.
Last year, Castle Rock reduced fireworks to two days a year: Independence Day and New Years Eve. Hill called the decision “incredibly brave” and said he’d like to see other councils follow suit.
“It’s not life or death, but it has to do with quality of life and what people expect to do in the privacy of their own home. When you set them off you share them with the whole world. Some people simply don’t want that in their lives, but they will accept a short period of time because they recognize that culturally fireworks have been around since the founding of our country.”