Fairfax County ignites plan to crack down on illegal fireworks use

Investigators found that improperly discarded fireworks caused a house fire this year in Herndon (via FCFRD/Twitter)

Fairfax County officials are exploring ways to crack down on the illegal use of fireworks.

At a meeting Tuesday (Sept. 12), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to consider expanding the enforcement powers of the Fairfax County Police Department related to fireworks.

Currently, FCPD officers don’t have jurisdiction to issue citations for individuals using fireworks illegally — a problem that Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who introduced the proposal, says “stifles” the county’s ability to prevent and end unlawful fireworks displays.

The county’s code currently designates the Office of the Fire Marshal as the only enforcement agency for issues related to fireworks, which can only be sold locally from June 1 to July 15 each year.

Around Independence Day, the office lacks bandwidth and staff to respond to calls for service and on-site safety protocol, according to Lusk.

The change was sparked by an increase in the number of fireworks-related incidents tackled by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, particularly around the Fourth of July.

According to the board matter, Deputy Fire Chief John Walser has said that this July 4 had “the most significant number of incidents of any [day] in the time I have been in the Fire Marshal’s Office.”

Between July 1 and 4, the police department received 60 calls of service related to fireworks displays in the Franconia District station alone. Just on July 4, county firefighters responded to 12 fires, “almost all of which were certainly related to fireworks,” Lusk said.

Staff will now work on drafting language for an ordinance that will be considered by the board before the end of the first quarter of 2024. A renewed interagency public awareness campaign on fireworks rules and safety is also planned.

Photo via FCFRD/Twitter

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