June 24, 2014, the Eugene City Council approved two City Code changes to address the pervasive use of fireworks, which each year raises many concerns for the safety and well-being of animals, senior citizens, military veterans, refugees, and community members at large. There has also been concern regarding injuries and fires caused by fireworks that can damage property and the environment. The City Code changes include:
- Within Eugene, fireworks that are legal for retail purchase can be used only between June 23 and July 6 and December 31 and January 1. (City Code 4.934). Violation of the ordinance is punishable by jail and the base fine has been set at $250.
- The use of illegal fireworks during anytime of the year, or the use of fireworks that are legal for retail purchase other than between June 23 and July 6 and December 31 and January 1, has been added to the Social Host ordinance ( 4.670).
The social host, or ordinance on unruly gatherings, holds individuals criminally responsible for hosting, organizing and allowing an unruly event or social gathering. Property owners where the event is hosted will also be penalized if there are multiple violations of this ordinance at the same property. The Eugene Municipal Court has assigned a base fine of $375 for criminal violations of this ordinance. Both hosts and property owners could be civilly liable for police, fire and public works response to repeated illegal gatherings that fall under this ordinance. For more on Social Host, there is a link at the bottom of this story.
Eugene Springfield Fire and Eugene Police and the Metro Explosive Disposal Unit have been taking steps to reduce the volume of unlawful displays, including through public service announcements, education and enforcement. This year, more emphasis will be placed on outreach and enforcement. The goal is to raise awareness and reduce illegal fireworks hazards. Eugene Springfield Fire and Eugene Police will be distributing fliers related to fireworks, hosting a Fireworks Amnesty Turn-in Day on June 28 (see below). Information is also being sent out through media/social media, Neighborhood Watch groups, Neighborhood Associations, and fireworks vendors. Eugene Police will staff additional officers on Friday July 4, from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., while Fire crews will patrol neighborhoods to note and report illegal fireworks activity.
What are Legal Fireworks?
Legal fireworks in Oregon can be sold from June 23 through July 6 of each year. These include fountains, spinners and wheels available at retail fireworks outlets. Additionally, legal fireworks produce only smoke, sparks or fire but DO NOT explode, eject balls of fire, fly into the air more than 12 inches or travel more than six feet on the ground. When both legal and illegal fireworks are improperly handled, injuries and fire damage occur.
Illegal fireworks include but are not limited to, fire crackers, bottle rockets and roman candles, fly into the air, explode and behave in an uncontrolled and unpredictable manner. Illegal fireworks are extremely dangerous and create extreme fire danger. Possession of illegal fireworks is a class B misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of $2,500 and six months in jail.
Cherry bombs, M-80’s and larger and any legal or illegal firework that has been modified are considered an EXPLOSIVE DEVICE and should not be handled. Call the Eugene Police Department immediately and do not transport.
Report illegal fireworks use in progress: 541-682-5111
Report a tip of possession/use of illegal fireworks: 541-682-8888, or e-mail: EugeneFireworksTips@ci.eugene.or.us(Be sure to use the 541-682-5111 phone number above for in progress crimes. The tip line email is only checked periodically.)
Be Prepared, Be Responsible, Be Safe and Be Aware.
Safety info at: oregon.gov/osp/sfm