Pullman PD, Fire stress safety for Fourth of July

Emergency services see rise in calls, warns against alcohol usage



A customer browses the fireworks selection at a Black Cat tent outside of Moscow. Pullman Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant said the best way to avoid illegal fireworks is to purchase them from Pullman vendors.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Emergency services in Pullman, including the Pullman Police and Fire departments, prepare every year for the emergency calls that accompany the public’s celebration of America’s independence.

Pullman Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant said while the number of calls increases during the holiday, it still doesn’t come close to the amount of responses required during a home football game weekend.

“There is an increase,” Tennant said. “However, it is probably the same ratio. You just have more people in town for the holiday.”

Tennant said most of the incidents they respond to on the Fourth of July involve driving under the influence, domestic disputes and assault. He also warned against becoming too intoxicated while using fireworks, which results in injuries during the holiday.

“You have people having a good time and that generally means alcohol,” he said. “The main thing with fireworks is common sense and that’s not always abundant. Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix, they just don’t.”

While the department has a minimum of two officers patrolling at any time during the summer months, Tennant said he will have six officers out during the evening hours on Wednesday to ensure the public’s safety. The department will also be present at the celebration in Sunnyside Park to provide security detail via foot and bike patrols.

One area Tennant said his team focuses on is the enforcement of fireworks ordinances, as people sometimes try to modify or use banned devices, both of which can endanger users.

To avoid being in violation of law, Tennant recommends buying from vendors in Pullman, all of which have been inspected to ensure they are only selling legal products.

Common firework types banned in the City of Pullman include firecrackers and bottle rockets, he said.

Pullman Police are not the only one’s gearing up for the holiday. Pullman Fire also prepares for a busier than normal summer night when Independence Day comes around.

Deputy Fire Marshal Tony Nuttman said they see an increase in calls due to fireworks.

“Carelessness plays a big role in a day-to-day basis,” he said. “When you put fireworks in to it, we respond on more calls.”

While the holiday carries risk with fireworks, Nuttman said the number of calls varies year-by-year with some seeing less accidents than others.

One major cause for calls for both the police and fire departments comes from people discarding their fireworks in dumpsters, which then catch fire later in the night, Nuttman said.

Nuttman and Tennant both recommend throwing used fireworks into a bucket filled with water overnight before disposing of the shells in the morning.

The best way to stay safe Wednesday is to attend the celebration at Sunnyside Park, Nuttman said. The department will also be present handing out stickers, helmets and providing games for children. Trucks will also be available for picture opportunities.

Areas to avoid include those containing dried vegetation and flammable liquids, Nuttman said. Another area is Pullman Public Schools property, as the district does not allow fireworks, Tennant said.

Fire trucks will drive around town on patrol ready to combat any flames, Nuttman said.

Other advice for staying safe while enjoying the festivities include supervising children and having a fire extinguisher or hose readily available in case something ignites, Nuttman said.

Fireworks can be lit off from 9 a.m to 11 p.m. on July 3 and from 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4, Tennant said.

In the end, Tennant said he just wants people to be able to safely enjoy the day.

“It screws up a holiday if you’re spending it in the emergency room,” Tennant said. “A little forethought goes a long way.”