The Portland Fire Bureau’s ban on use of all fireworks, announced Tuesday morning, doesn’t prohibit their sale in the city.
The Fire Bureau said Tuesday a ban on fireworks was needed to protect city residents amid the ongoing heat wave and dry weather.
It comes less than a week out from the July Fourth weekend — but nothing bars anyone with a permit to sell retail fireworks from doing so in Portland. On Tuesday, fireworks stands in the city were open and doing brisk business.
Rob Garrison, public information officer for the bureau, said people can still sell and possess fireworks in Portland that are otherwise legal in Oregon.
It would take a state statute change or a city ordinance to prohibit the sale of fireworks, Garrison said, because it’s the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office that issues permits for firework sales. Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone, however, has the authority to place a short-term ban on fireworks use “because it’s a safety hazard,” Garrison said.
“If we wanted to permanently ban fireworks, which is not what we’re trying to do, that would have to be an ordinance,” he said.
City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees the Fire Bureau, said in an email that she does not have the authority to ban the sale of fireworks. That, she wrote, would require an emergency declaration — an action only the mayor is authorized to take.
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.
“I take the threat fireworks pose very seriously,” Hardesty wrote. “I hear our community’s request for strong decisive action and I will be working with my colleagues to explore the option of a longer-term ban on the sale and use of fireworks, but that action will take more time than we have before the holiday weekend. I urge everyone in Portland to be responsible this upcoming weekend. Please refrain from using fireworks and encourage your neighbors to do the same.”
The bureau wrote in its statement that fire investigators will not patrol for use of fireworks but warned that they would investigate all fires linked to fireworks. Fireworks causing injury or extensive damage may result in heavy fines or jail time.
Officials asked people not call 911 to report fireworks use in order to reserve the emergency system for active fires and serious medical issues.
All areas of Multnomah County west of the Sandy River remain under a burn ban, which went into effect last Wednesday. The ban includes recreational campfires, fire pits, yard debris, agricultural burning and permits for open burning. Outdoor barbecuing is allowed.
— Ardeshir Tabrizian; email@example.com; 503-929-3053; @ardytabrizian