When Bend’s fireworks ban went into effect on June 28, it was unclear when or if it would end.
City council will take the next step to potentially write the ban on the use and sale of fireworks into city law at tomorrow’s 5 p.m. meeting.
Council will read an ordinance that would amend the law, and then vote on whether they would like to change that ordinance or move forward with it.
City Councilor Melanie Kebler says the issue has been continually brought up by the public.
“There’s definitely been public movement on this over the past few years,” Kebler said. “For instance, when we first came in as council we heard from neighborhood associations and neighbors during our goal-setting about how important this issue was to people.
“I’m not surprised that given the past couple years of fires in Oregon we’re seeing people really paying attention and speaking out on this issue.”
Kebler believes the ban makes sense for Bend at this time.
“We saw this summer the intense heat wave and dryness and extreme fire risk that we experienced living here in the high desert with climate change happening,” she said. “We’re just going to continue to see these really hot and dry fire seasons, and the unfortunate effects of smoke and large wildfires across the state.
“It just makes sense to take steps right now to really reduce our own risk of that fire here in Bend.”
A public comment section will take place alongside the consideration of the ordinance, so the public can speak to this issue directly.
TNT Fireworks Regional Manager Jason Trout will attend to share about how the ban would affect business in the city.
“There haven’t been any fireworks fires started from the fireworks that we’re selling in the community,” he said. “Kind of takes away the argument that they’re making for banning fireworks in the first place.”
TNT Fireworks typically sets up five stands in Bend each year, and they also sell within 21 different chain stores like Walmart, Albertsons, Safeway, Costco and Fred Meyer.
The business earns between $300,000 and $500,000 in revenue from sales in Bend alone.
“Fireworks that go up in the air, fireworks that have really loud booms…that’s typically what people are complaining about. Those fireworks are already illegal in Oregon, they’re not even legal here,” Trout said.
“I think the council’s making a mistake by not differentiating between what we’re selling legally within the city and what people are bringing in illegally and using within the city.”
Businesses wouldn’t be the only ones impacted.
For around 20 years, Faith Christian Center has sold fireworks in the summer to raise money for their children and youth programs.
The fireworks ban placed over the summer already made a negative impact, knocking their typical $15,000 to $20,000 in yearly sales down to around $5,000.
Pastor Mark Gering says they currently do not have a ‘plan B’ in place for making up the lost funds if the permanent ban is in place.
“It takes a lot of car washes and a lot of bake sales to raise that kind of money, so I’m not sure at this point,” Gering said.
He believes the ban shouldn’t go into effect for everyone just because certain people do not use them wisely.
“I see fireworks usage as something that could be legal, and we just expect people to be responsible, like we expect that with alchohol use, marijuana use, or even driving a car. It’s legal, you still have to be responsible,” he said.
Cindy Kettering with Bend Fire Department said both illegal and legal fireworks are capable of causing fires.
“This past July, the fires were fortunately small,” she said. “One that I responded to on Wilson by the railroad tracks was caused by illegal fireworks.
“In recent years, we have had significant fires caused by discharge of illegal fireworks as well as the improper disposal of legal fireworks.”
The full ordinance to be read by city council Wednesday can be read below.7_Fireworks_Ordinance-2