THE DAILY WORLD | File photo 
Elma and Cosmopolis have banned the use of personal fireworks due to fire danger through July 5. There will be a professional fireworks show July 4 in Aberdeen over the Chehalis River.

THE DAILY WORLD | File photo Elma and Cosmopolis have banned the use of personal fireworks due to fire danger through July 5. There will be a professional fireworks show July 4 in Aberdeen over the Chehalis River.

Cosi, Elma issue emergency orders banning the use of fireworks

Updated 8:44 a.m. July 1

The cities of Elma and Cosmopolis issued emergency orders on Monday banning the use of fireworks through the holiday weekend due to the recent extended period of high temperatures and dry conditions in the areas.

Cosmopolis Mayor Kyle Pauley issued his emergency proclamation on Monday morning banning the use of fireworks within the city limits. Elma issued its own later in the day.

“We have an ordinance in place for about five years to allow the Elma fire chief or Elma police chief to declare an emergency to restrict the discharge of fireworks,” said Elma Mayor Jim Sorensen.

Hoquiam Mayor Ben Winkelman issued an emergency executive order prohibiting the use of commercial fireworks on Monday afternoon. However, at a City Council meeting on Monday evening, he rescinded his emergency order, saying under state law and current city code he didn’t think he had the authority to issue such a ban.

“It was brought to my attention that, that perhaps it was overreaching my authority as mayor to constitute as a misdemeanor crime,” Winkelman said.

All three emergency declarations by the cities made the discharge of fireworks during the ban a misdemeanor punishable by law.

Both Elma and Cosmopolis have provisions in their city codes that allow the mayor to issue such emergency proclamations dealing with fireworks.

“Elma and Cosi both put in an ordinance during the 2015 dry season that allows for this,” said Pauley. Sorensen said he supports Elma Police Chief Susan Schultz’s decision to enact the ban.

Cosmopolis municipal code 9.28.170 states, “the mayor is authorized, after consulting with the fire chief and police chief, to order that the conditions are too dangerous to allow the use of fireworks within the City of Cosmopolis,” and that “violations of the emergency prohibitions shall be punished as a misdemeanor.”

Winkelman told the Hoquiam City Council on Monday that he had a lot of feedback after issuing his proclamation, some in favor, some against. He acknowledged a surge in calls to both the fire and police departments during the weekend’s high temperatures.

“I am gravely concerned with the dry and hot weather and how our city is unable to adequately respond to such an emergency in the future if such conditions were not so short lived,” Winkelman posted on the city’s Facebook page.

“Sometimes leadership calls upon elected officials to make emergency decisions, but also to have the courage to change your mind when your authority is bound by necessary changes in the law.”

In neighboring Aberdeen, no ban is in place at this time.

“The City Council will have a brief discussion and brought up to date on the latest laws and issues involving a fireworks ban, and current fire hazards,” said Aberdeen Mayor Pete Schave. “I do not anticipate a ban on fireworks at this time. The safety of our citizens and our community is always my first priority, then the retail businesses that have made a substantial investment.”

In Westport, the City Council on Monday passed its own resolution banning the use of fireworks, but it will not go into effect until just before the holiday next year. The city’s regular fireworks regulations will be in place this year.

Language in the Westport resolution added language including “It is unlawful to use, sell, barter or trade fireworks within the city without the prior approval of the City Council and the mayor of the city,” and “No person shall ignite, discharge, use or explode any fireworks within the city limits for properly licensed public displays of fireworks.”