The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly may be taking a closer look at its fireworks ordinance in the future. Despite hearing fewer noise complaints than usual over the Fourth of July weekend, Borough Manager Bud Cassidy said two complaints were sent to the borough online concerning the amount of fireworks and noise in residential areas.
“They felt like the borough’s firework policy was failing and really directed the borough to try and do something different.”
Cassidy said the borough dug into the matter a bit and discovered that despite the limited complaints the borough, the Alaska state Troopers and borough fire departments were quite busy over the holiday weekend addressing community concerns and fires caused by fireworks.
Bayside Fire Department responded to two fires out at White Sands beach and Womens Bay Fire Department was called to a fire just past the trailhead to Heitman Lake. Cassidy said the fact that folks aren’t being cautious in dry areas is concerning, and unfortunately avoiding that is what leads to problems in residential areas. “We were directing folks to the ocean and what that generally means is folks would go to the nearest ocean from where they sell the fireworks and that’s Mill Bay Beach. And folks in Mill Bay have probably been receiving the brunt of all the noise – unregulated people exploding fireworks up to 3 a.m., if not even later.”
Cassidy brought up the issue of fireworks in residential areas during Thursday’s borough assembly work session, and a handful of assembly members expressed support of revisiting the firework ordinance before New Year’s Eve, when usage is allowed again.
Assemblywoman Carol Austerman said she was contacted directly by a number of people over the holiday weekend and felt the language should be changed to keep fireworks out of residential areas.
Bayside Fire Chief Bob Himes said he feels a bit stronger on the matter.
“I’m an advocate of a fireworks ban. They are very dangerous. We have had several instances of fires caused by fireworks, we’ve had several people injured by fireworks and throughout the United States there’s been several people killed by fireworks.”
Himes said it’s the same story every Fourth of July and even during New Years – injuries and fires, both outside and sometimes in homes. Beyond that, Himes said he was astonished to find the amount of firework litter left at the fires he responded to over the holiday weekend.
“The litter that was left there was just unreal. Mill Bay Beach, those areas with lots of people have been cleaned up, but there’s areas out at Monashka Bay were forests are just littered with fireworks.”
Under borough code, tonight is the last night fireworks are allowed to be used outside of city limits. Starting tomorrow any leftover pyrotechnics will need to be saved until December 26, when usage is open until January 1. However, Cassidy said he thinks it’s more than likely something will change between now and then, so folks should make sure they are aware of any code changes or new signage come the New Year. Fireworks are banned year round in city limits.
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