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Agenda Item - 2021-04-20 - Number 6.3 - Fireworks and Outdoor Fire Policies Update 6.3 0), 4 COUNCIL REPORT r o OREGOt.4 Subject: Updating Fireworks and Outdoor Fire Policies Meeting Date:April 20, 2021 Staff Member: Don Johnson, Fire Chief Department: Fire Department Action Required Advisory Board/Commission Recommendation ❑ Motion ❑ Approval ❑ Public Hearing ❑ Denial ❑ Ordinance ❑ None Forwarded ❑ Resolution ❑x Not Applicable ❑ Information Only Comments: x❑ Council Direction ❑ Consent Agenda Staff Recommendation: Recommended Language for Motion: Project/Issue Relates To: ❑X Council Goals/Priorities ❑Adopted Master Plan(s) ❑Not Applicable EXECUTIVE SUMMARY On March 11, 2021, Council approved a Work Plan to achieve Council Goal 1B for 2021, "Update fireworks and outdoor fire policies." This report provides an overview of staff's research into issues related to the use of legal and illegal fireworks, a synopsis of staff's efforts to engage in a community discussion on fireworks policies, and a framework that allows Council to have an informed policy discussion on the sale and use of legal fireworks in Lake Oswego. This report also provides an overview of outdoor fires in Lake Oswego and makes a recommendation to Council to maintain the policy in its current form. BACKGROUND In January 2021, Council met to discuss their Goals and Initiatives for the year. Council articulated their Goal to "Ensure a safe and secure community for all." Councilor Wendland suggested a discussion and potential update of polices relating to fireworks and outdoor fires. In March 2021, Council adopted this 503.635.0215 380 A Avenue PO BOX 369 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 www.lakeosweao.citv Page 2 initiative under Goal 1B, and requested a Council Study Session to determine whether updates should be made to any related policies. Fire Department staff took the lead, supported by the City Attorney's Office and Communication Team. Outdoor Fires Only recreational fires in firepits are lawful in Lake Oswego although the use of recreational firepits in Lake Oswego is high, the Fire Department has not found them to be problematic. Staff is unaware of any uncontrolled fires caused by their use. Occasionally,the Fire Department responds to non- recreational fires where a resident might be burning trash or plant material. Most responses have been to lawful outdoor fires. In situations where the outdoor fire is found to be unlawful, the fire department has the ability to issue a citation under our Municipal Code or use the interaction as a fire prevention educational opportunity. Due to the complexity of managing fireworks and creating a policy, staff recommends separating the discussions of fireworks and outdoor fires.The City Council Study Session for April 20, 2020 focuses on fireworks specifically. Fireworks in Oregon The sales, storage, and use of fireworks in Oregon are governed by Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Chapter 480. Fireworks that fly off the ground ("aerial fireworks"),travel more than six feet on the ground or 12 inches into the air, or make a "gun-like noise" (explode) are unlawful to sell, store, or use without a permit. "Illegal fireworks" include but are not limited to: bottle rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, and mortars. Permits are issued only to licensed pyrotechnic professionals for commercial fireworks shows. Lake Oswego's regulation of fireworks sales, storage and use follow ORS Ch. 480. The maximum fine for the use of these fireworks without a permit under city ordinance is$1000. The City Council enacted Ordinance 2621 in 2013, which makes the use of illegal fireworks a City Code violation,which can result in a violations and fines through municipal court. Ground-based fireworks are legal if they do not explode of fly from the ground or move side to side more than 6 feet. Ground-based fireworks include things like sparklers, cones, and fountains that emit sparks. Ground-based fireworks are typically labeled and sold as "Safe and Sane." Ground-based fireworks may only be sold from June 23rd to July 6th each year; but may be stored and used year- round. They do not require a permit for persons to purchase or use, and are referred to a "legal fireworks"for personal use. Several cities in Oregon have enacted local ordinances that prohibit the sales, storage, and use of ground-based fireworks. Examples include Ashland and Rogue River(complete bans), and Medford (bans in specific areas based upon forestation and some urban-wildland interface areas). Fireworks in Lake Oswego Ground-based fireworks have recently been sold at two locations in Lake Oswego, both inside and outside at the Safeway Supermarket on A Avenue and the Albertson's Supermarket on Boones Ferry Road. Both locations are permitted for sales by the State Fire Marshal and the Lake Oswego Fire Marshal. The Permit Holder is TNT Fireworks, which shares profits with either a for-profit or not-for- profit entity providing the staffing at the outside location. TNT Fireworks provides educational material for safe use and disposal with each sale. TNT Fireworks has submitted applications the sale of legal fireworks at the Safeway and Albertson location for the July 4th holiday this year, and the applications have been held pending direction from the Council on this issue. 503.635.0215 380 A Avenue PO BOX 369 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 www.lakeoswego.city Page 3 Over the past 20 years in Lake Oswego there have been 39 fires caused by fireworks. These fires range from brush and grass fires to fires in residential structures. Of the 39 fires, 12 were attributed to the use of ground-based fireworks, 23 were attributed to the use of illegal fireworks, and in the remaining 4 fires no attribution was made. In all, the dollar loss was estimated at$1.2 million dollars. Attachment A plots the fires in Lake Oswego during the last 20 years. As can be seen, no particular area of the City shows a higher or lower prevalence. It should be noted that the vast majority of fireworks-related fires (35 of 39) occur within a 3-week period around the 4th of July. Education and Enforcement The Fire Department has undertaken safety education related to the use and disposal of fireworks for many years, typically in the lead up to the 4th of July holiday. Efforts have ranged from print ads,to flyers,to stories in the local press. Staff is not convinced the efforts have had an impact thus far, but staff intends to work with the newly formed City Communications Team to expand the reach through social media, print media, community engagement at City events, and targeted messaging that encourages a Safe and Fire-Free Fourth of July in Lake Oswego. Additionally,the Fire Department will be participating in a statewide effort for 2021 that is focused on wildfire prevention, preparedness, and response. The program, "Ready, Set, Go" has been adapted for Oregon from programs that have been successful in other states affected by recent wildfires. Enforcement efforts have been ongoing for many years. Still, every year our LOCOM dispatch center receives 70 to 100 complaints around the July 4th holiday reporting the use of illegal fireworks. Both the Police and Fire Departments increase staffing over the holiday,yet very few citations are issued, primarily because the incidents are either not taking place when police or fire personnel arrive, or the incidents are taking place on private property, out of public view—which limits the opportunity for enforcement without a warrant. Both the Lake Oswego police and fire chiefs agree that enforcement probably has minimal impact on behavior related to the use of illegal fireworks, but that visibility of police officers and firefighters is an important tool for community education and public confidence. In other geographical areas where all fireworks are prohibited, anecdotal conversations point more towards a shift in a wildfire prevention mindset of a community to change the community's risk tolerance related to both legal and illegal fireworks. DISCUSSION Staff developed four options for Council consideration: 1. Maintain the status quo. Under this option,ground-based fireworks would remain lawful for sales by permitted vendors; personal use of ground-based fireworks would remain lawful. Aerial fireworks would continue to be unlawful for personal use; commercially-licensed aerial fireworks shows would remain lawful under a permit. 2. Community education and/or enforcement focus. Under this option, staff would develop a sustained fire prevention education program focusing on the safe personal use and disposal of legal (ground-based)fireworks, and the risks associated with fireworks. Additionally, staff from police and fire would increase enforcement of existing Oregon state law regarding illegal fireworks. 503.635.0215 380 A Avenue PO BOX 369 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 www.lakeoswego.city Page 4 3. Enable Fire Chief/Fire Marshal to Declare a Temporary Ban. Enact a local ordinance that would allow the Fire Chief or Fire Marshal to temporarily ban the sales or use of fireworks by individuals, and all flame or spark producing activities based upon an accepted and reliable science-based predictive model of relative fire danger in the local area. Under this option,the Fire Chief or Fire Marshal would be authorized to temporarily ban the sales and use of all personal use legal fireworks and ban all flame or spark producing activities after careful study of the current and predictive fire conditions in the local area. Any decision to prohibit the sales and use of legal fireworks and ban other flame and spark producing activities would be grounded in information gathered from the Oregon Department of Forestry(ODF), District 13 (encompasses Lake Oswego) reporting and modeling using defined criteria enumerated in the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFRDS). NFRDS data is collected and analyzed from three ODF District 13 weather stations and is then delivered to the Lake Oswego Fire Department by email every morning year-round. The data includes items such as temperature, wind, relative humidity,fuel loads, and topography that are nationally accepted measures of fire behavior under current or predicted conditions. For the lay user,the data provides an overall fire danger rating for a particular time period that is presented in a four-tier strata, ranging from Low to Extreme fire risk. If this option were chosen, Staff recommends authorizing a temporary prohibition only under an Extreme fire risk rating, as described through the data collected using the NFDRS. In looking back at ten years of data for July 4, there has not been a time of extreme fire risk on that day. That said, staff believes it prudent for Council to consider an ordinance that may be employed for any time period throughout the year. This would prohibit the use of illegal fireworks during Extreme fire danger conditions at any time of year without having to declare a "State of Emergency" as a local municipality, as is currently required. 4. Ban sales and personal use of legal fireworks. Under this option,the sales and use of ground-based fireworks would be unlawful in Lake Oswego. Aerial and exploding fireworks, already illegal for personal use under Oregon law, would continue to be unlawful. Commercially licensed and permitted aerial fireworks shows would remain lawful. [If the Council were to pursue this option, the City Attorney recommends the Council take up the ordinance at its next meeting, so that applicant TNT Fireworks knows whether to plan for business operations in Lake Oswego for the July 4' holiday.] Community Outreach& Feedback During the March 16 City Council meeting, Council requested staff gather community feedback on the policy options prior to the Fireworks Study Session. Staff organized a public survey and conducted listening sessions, as well as outreach to our fire district partners. The goal of the survey was to measure the feelings and support level for each policy option listed above. The survey was shared widely through the City's website, social media accounts, and e-newsletter. In addition,the survey was shared through the City of Lake Oswego Library, City of Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, and Lake Oswego School District's e- newsletter.The survey was also shared with the Neighborhood Association chairs and boards, and City boards and commissions. Community Emergency Response Team volunteers were asked to share the survey widely. 503.635.0215 380 A Avenue PO BOX 369 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 www.lakeoswego.city Page 5 Staff connected directly with two of the three fire districts boards that are outside of City but are served by Lake Oswego Fire Department: Lake Grove Rural Fire Protection District No. 57, Riverdale Rural Fire Protection District No. 11. Their comments are captured in the "common themes" comments section below. Survey Results: • 857 surveys were completed • 92% of respondents were self-identified as Lake Oswego residents • 64% of respondents indicated they or their households not use fireworks during the year • 59.1%were against banning the use of legal (ground-based)fireworks; 31.1%supported a ban; and 9.8%were unsure • 47.7%of respondents rated current fireworks restrictions in Lake Oswego are fine as is; 42.6% not restrictive enough, and 10%too restrictive • 44.2%of respondents indicated the City should restrict the use of legal (ground-based)fireworks through a Code change; 41.1% indicated the City should not; and 14.7%weren't sure • 65.3%of respondents favored an increase in educational efforts and enforcement relative to illegal fireworks • 81.4%of respondents thought the Fire Chief and Fire Marshal should be authorized to temporarily ban the use of legal ground-based fireworks when the risk of fire is high; 14.5% said they should not; and 5%were unsure. Comments representing common themes ' : • "I think the use of legal fireworks in our city is fine. Our family doesn't really do fireworks but just because we don't doesn't mean others shouldn't be able to as long as they are LEGAL. I know it hugs [bugs?] people especially with animals but in the picture, it is a little thing over a several days a couple times a year-4th and News Years it seems. Let the people have their fun as long as they are safe and using the legal ones. We all have fun in different ways and even though we don't buy fireworks I don't want to take that fun away from my neighbors. It's all about respecting each other." • "Fireworks are dangerous and have no value. Sure,they're pretty, but there at lots of other ways to celebrate.At the very least, place a restriction on how late people can use them. On New Year's Eve they went off every hour from 10 pm to 4 am, keeping hundreds of people awake all night." • "I have lived in LO for 21 years — the same people in my area shoot off illegal fireworks for July 4 and New Year's Eve annually. I would love to see more enforcement and stronger penalties for abusers. Please advertise early and often to residents how to report these incidents. Is it only non-emergency police or will a separate option be available this year?Will there be enough fire and police available to even respond?Thanks." • "I suggest a curfew on use, e.g., limit use to the hours of 7-10 pm, since the noise is disruptive" • "The City needs to do a better job of enforcing the current illegal fireworks law, especially around the lake. Living near the lake on the Fourth of July is like living near a battlefield." • "I never want to go through the experience we had with the fires and smoke.To me,fireworks are not worth the risk to our beautiful city" 503.635.0215 380 A Avenue PO BOX 369 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 www.lakeoswego.city Page 6 • "Fireworks should be restricted to only certain days and times. Some fireworks should be completely restricted if they pose a high fire or environmental risk or hazard.There should be a requirement to clean up the mess they leave behind." • "Greater enforcement and response to illegal fireworks would be excellent, but I realize the city is budget constrained. I would least like to see higher fines for the use of illegal fireworks within city limits." • "Summers are getting hotter and dryer. We live in a forest in and around LO. Last year's fire we were on a stage 3 alert with the strong winds in play. It is only matter of time before the 1% who are careless anyway with safe and sane fireworks, catch a tree on fire and with a wind, we are toast for sure. Insurance companies are revisiting forested areas in Oregon after last year's fires with an eye to increased rates or even cancelling the high risk areas. We would be ahead of the game mitigating the risk in our areas in LO banning all fireworks." RECOMMENDATION Staff recommends Council direct staff to: • Develop a fire prevention education program focusing on the safe personal use and disposal of legal (ground-based)fireworks (Option 2); and • Return to Council with an Ordinance to be considered for adoption, authorizing the Fire Chief or Fire Marshal to temporarily ban the sales or use of ground-based fireworks and other flame or spark producing activities if the fire risk in Lake Oswego is rated as Extreme, using the NFRDS rating provided by the Oregon Department of Forestry (Option 3). ATTACHMENTS 1. Fireworks Related Fires Since 2001 2. Fireworks Survey 'Comments are typed as submitted. Any typographical or grammatical errors are as submitted. 503.635.0215 380 A Avenue PO BOX 369 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 www.lakeoswego.city --._•-1 ,W r. •A " —•--•-L,,,r'p a TTACHMENT IVI N T 1 ' • • •A Fireworks Related Fires Since 2001 �le':; v°°"°�" °r $500 Qs• m" - u„/ .rlelm : II Fe.R4- I -/: 4.1 ' L — I p i 1 „ � •PORTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE ! ; A $zoo'Mr snvANlAcanvus ! �' .„ • % t •. / , i . , R oN�REEKs,ATENATURALAREA ` , ild s.,/' .. .... a°. . ,,, 0... ...... . 1 '� ''r . s 1, ,, ....."____......._..._....................._.' a ye . . s.,0 / ,s,s....„,, . . .„- 1 .... cr • j '°•gym j -_• \ � DOUGN, DWG oN.„w x x x .,. .uniem° °rP ,..F, __ 4 r . 11 III O.,. ., Ili / . .: .: ., . a s $325,000� g --_3$i1il9-/ !----1 I•_..� ,o„n ` R L.RE. _ ----�— — — — — — — ----vv --- — r/• ..—. 1 •7 1 --�,Ewoo�-• _ p. ,, I 4.„ a j '"j a . 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I `\\ y 1 j % ,c wexsm e 4° • Y 3 ...1 i .,om ,r , � ' 3 •—.•—.._.._..y w,.r ,„ -E °� 4ia ww. 5 CANALY° • rLL,, ; iAREA .EA �° ! 1.;�_i °� I �, _ a" �r� 1 1 -- ,,, L �- �r- MD W000 FERRY «re."° ,... ����'�'•�./ RIVER RUN PARK RIVER RUN PARK j A. 3 .. ,- 8 u C` -. °T h.., 115 City of Lake Oswego - Fireworks Survey All changes saved in Drive ATTACHMENT 2 p D Questions Responses 869 869 responses 131 • Not accepting responses D Message for respondents This form is no longer accepting responses Summary Question Individual Background 1.What best describes you? 857 responses • I live in Lake Oswego • I work in Lake Oswego lip I visit/recreate in Lake Oswego 0 I live part-time there iims • Live within Lake Oswego school boun... 92.5% • Clackamas unincorporated •All three actually •work in LO 1/2 2. Do you or your household use fireworks during the year? 856 responses •Yes 64.1% • No 35.9% 3.The City currently follows Oregon state law related to enforcing illegal fireworks. How would you rank the current fireworks restrictions in Lake Oswego? 852 responses • Fine as is Too restrictive Not restrictive enough 10% 42.6% 4.Should the City of Lake Oswego restrict the use of legal fireworks through a code change? 855 responses •Yes • No 41.1% Not sure 14.7% 44.2% 5.Are you in favor of the City increasing education and/or enforcement against the use of all fireworks under the existing Oregon state law? 854 responses •Yes 26.8% • No • Don't know 65.3% 6. Should the Fire Chief and Fire Marshal be authorized to temporarily ban the use and sales of any fireworks during specified times of higher fire risk conditions? 855 responses •Yes • No 14.5% Not sure 81.4% 7. Should the City ban the use and sales of legal fireworks(this would include items like sparklers,cone fountains,wheels, base fountains)? 856 responses •Yes • No 59.1% Don't know 31.1% 8. Do you have any additional comments? 334 responses no No Greater enforcement and response to illegal fireworks would be excellent, but I realize the city is budget constrained. I would least like to see higher fines for the use of illegal fireworks within city limits.. Loud illegal fire works are an issue in most neighborhoods. Would like to eliminate them. Could the city run firework displays safely in a few locations in the city that people could walk to? Like the summer concert series in park open areas? Crack down only on illegal fireworks that scare dogs and veterans. We usually leave town because the fireworks go on for days in neighborhoods. Indeed,after this past year,fireworks should be understand as an absolute danger to all, as well as to property. Would like to see a total elimination this year and in the future