Personal fireworks banned

Residents who like to gather friends and family to set off their own fireworks on the Fourth of July will have to come up with a new tradition to celebrate the holiday.

The Ashland City Council voted on Tuesday to ban the personal use of fireworks citywide.

The ban won't affect the official display of fireworks that explode in the sky.

The council already had decided to ban personal fireworks citywide in October 2009, but the issue was reopened when city staff asked for permission to evaluate a system in which residents could apply for fireworks permits from Ashland Fire & Rescue.

With the fire department already busy during hot, dry summers and short-staffed because of past budget cuts, the council decided the permitting idea simply wasn't workable.

Residents would have had to pay a fee and meet a number of conditions, including providing the signature of an adult who would have assumed responsibility for all property damage and injuries. Firefighters would have inspected each site where residents wanted to set off fireworks.

In 2009, Ashland Fire Chief John Karns had proposed a ban on fireworks above Siskiyou Boulevard — where homes begin to meld into the forested hills above town — because he didn't think councilors would vote for a citywide ban. Past efforts to get a citywide ban have failed.

Karns said on Tuesday night that the citywide ban will have the least impact on overstretched firefighters and will reduce the number of ignition sources.

"Strictly from a fire chief's perspective, it's optimum," he said.

Councilor Russ Silbiger said many residents will be unhappy about the citywide ban, but he voted for it along with Councilors David Chapman, Kate Jackson and Carol Voisin.

Councilors Greg Lemhouse and Eric Navickas voted against the ban.

Lemhouse favored the permitting system, while Navickas wanted an above-the-boulevard ban.

City officials acknowledged the city lacks enough fire and police department staff to enforce the ban completely. Both departments already have most of their personnel work on the Fourth of July.

"It's crazy out there," Karns said.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

Share This Story