New verbiage in the Sequim Municipal Code provides the City of Sequim’s Fire Marshal Ann Hall more legal backing if she were to ban fireworks during the Fourth of July in a time of extreme fire danger.
Sequim City Councilors unanimously approved a change to the code Monday that allows banning fireworks “During periods of very high or extreme fire danger, as determined by the City fire marshal or the City Manager … This decision should be based upon consultation with representatives of Fire District 3 and the Clallam County Fire Marshal.”
“It does not ban fireworks period,” Interim City Manager Craig Ritchie said. “It bans them in times it’s pretty dangerous to use them.”
Hall already held the ability to ban fireworks this year, but she said after collaborating with city staff and other fire officials, they felt the city didn’t have a specific definition in the code to say why they would ban fireworks legally.
Earlier this year, the city and other local municipalities banned outdoor burning and open fires but not fireworks outrightly.
Hall said she would have banned fireworks during the Fourth of July if this update were in place due to the high fire danger.
Ben Andrews, fire chief for Clallam County District 3, said he was glad to see the update.
“This mean it’s no longer arbitrary,” Andrews said. “There’s a standard to use. The standard we use typically for recreational and other types of burn bans is the fire rating through the national parks and DNR (Department of Natural Resources).”
Ritchie said the updated code doesn’t require city staff meet with other agencies, but merely suggests the city should and guards the city from a defense if an agency is unavailable to meet for consultation and a legal matter rises from fireworks usage.
The speed limit on East Brownfield Road along U.S. Highway 101 between Sequim Avenue and Simdars Road will increase from 30 mph to 35 mph.
City councilors unanimously approved the resolution Monday following Public Works Director David Garlington’s recommendation.
He said residents’ input led city staff to conduct an engineering study on the stretch from April 27-May 21.
“Eighty-five-percent of people were going 42 mph or less,” he said.
Garlington said going up to 40 mph made a logical case but the street was designed by the Department of Transportation at 35 mph and that going up to 40 mph would increase liability for the city.
The traffic study also showed two minor, non-injury car wrecks in past five years due to faulty equipment and not speeding, he said.
Councilor Ted Miller said he’s disappointed the city isn’t going up to 40 mph.
“Now there’s going to be constant pressure to raise it from 35 mph to 40 mph,” he said. “At least it’s a step in the right direction.”