As many of you already know, fireworks of any kind are not permitted in the city of Ashland. For those who are newer to the area, that may come as a surprise unless you come from a California or an Arizona town which also do not permit fireworks.
What happened that caused Ashland to stop the use of the personal fireworks? It wasn’t really one event, but more a series of events.
The most significant fireworks incident in Ashland occurred in 2002 when a family lost their home on July 13 due to an errant firework that ignited the bushes and then the home. Despite a tearful presentation to the City Council, fireworks use continued in Ashland.
Over the next several years, there were many incidents involving fireworks, dollars spent in clean up, complaints about the noise and disturbance to pets, and the nagging question: “Why do we let people play with fire at the foot of the watershed in some of the hottest and driest times of the year?”
In 2009, Fire Chief John Karns arrived in Ashland. On the Fourth of July after the parade, there was a response for a structure fire just above the university. Upon arrival on scene, firefighters found smoke coming from a gutter. After pulling the gutter down and preventing the fire from spreading, it was found that a firework had been lit and thrown up on the roof. While there was no news-making fire that day, the potential for significant loss was great.
The question was raised again as to why are we allowing fireworks to be used in a town at the edge of a forest at the most fire-prone time of the year? After presenting a few options to the City Council, the council decided to ban personal fireworks throughout the city year-round.
We at Ashland Fire & Rescue encourage you, your family and guests to help prevent fires by heeding the fireworks ban in the city, and by taking advantage of the fireworks display sponsored by the Ashland Chamber of Commerce at 10 p.m. July 4.
Our website (look for the fire department page at www.ashland.or.us) has a lot of information about the 4th of July celebration here in Ashland.
Ready, set, go! We encourage you to commit to being READY at all times throughout the summer in the event that you would need to be evacuated. However, please remember the following:
The “Be Ready” level, also known as green Level 1, means you should be prepared and be aware.
The “Be Set” level, or yellow Level 2, means that you must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.
The “Go!” level, or red Level 3 means you must leave immediately.
Find more at www.rvem.org.
Have a safe and fun summer!
Ralph Sartain is a division chief of Fire and Life Safety with Ashland Fire & Rescue. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.