In our opinion
The debate over fireworks took center stage in Medical Lake last week
The City Council had varying concerns regarding the use of M-80s, which produce an incredibly loud bang without any real “fireworks” quality, and people coming in from outside of the city to light fireworks in restricted areas. Their concerns are valid, given the city’s policing situation and the unauthorized fireworks being brought in from people around the region. It raises the question of what Medical Lake should do, going into the future.
And, the solution lies with the city and its residents. There are really only two options that come to the table based on last week’s discussion: a complete ban or adding more restrictions.
Medical Lake is between a rock and a hard place with the fireworks issue. On one hand, the city’s celebration is a signature part of Independence Day, and a special treat for residents in Medical Lake. However, the city lacks proper enforcement numbers to handle the illegal fireworks and to make the celebration more manageable.
Two years ago, Airway Heights made the move to restrict fireworks to residential properties. That way, homeowners could still buy fireworks in town and celebrate Independence Day at their own home. In that first year, community members noted a distinct difference in how the night went – more along the lines of a celebration rather than a war zone, a term which was used at the Medical Lake City Council describing its own Fourth of July.
Adding additional restrictions to fireworks can help alleviate the fire danger, and would make the Fourth of July safer. But, the city can’t enforce the restrictions it already has, making it a difficult outcome for Medical Lake to achieve. That’s where additional help from law enforcement is very much needed. The city should look at hiring a couple of extra officers for the Fourth of July. They’ll likely only be required for six hours on the holiday, which should help alleviate concerns about the added expenses.
Additional patrols would deter people buying illegal fireworks and launching them in Medical Lake. Instead of having one officer running around, hotspots could be shut down quickly. The city should also consider mirroring Airway Heights’ regulations that restrict fireworks to residential property. Medical Lake’s fire trucks had to stop numerous times for fireworks in the roadway, which could prove deadly in a medical emergency. At the very least, the city needs additional bodies to ensure that emergency services are able to move around streets with ease.
Few people want to see a complete ban on fireworks, as it’s one of the good traditions out on the West Plains. Fireworks are a fun sight to see, regardless of where they are at.
In regard to long-range planning, Medical Lake has something very special to offer the Spokane area. While it would prove to be an expense, having fireworks on the lake would be a huge draw to the West Plains area and, if done right, could even take a good chunk of those driving out to Spokane. Unfortunately, there’s a heavy cost involved with insurance, the actual fireworks and other event expenses. When everything is factored in, a simple 15- to 20-minute show can cost more than $50,000.
Medical Lake has a special thing in allowing residents to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks. It’s truly American and brings families together in a unique way for the holiday. With proper enforcement, it can be a grand time for all, instead of a growing nuisance.