Tumwater firework patrols aim to teach, not arrest

Tumwater will send out policeman, firefighter to educate, not arrest, on Fourth

ckrotzer@theolympian.comJuly 4, 2013 

A Tumwater police officer and a firefighter are on patrol this Fourth of July to help teach the rules of safely using fireworks within city limits.

The pair hit the streets Wednesday night and will continue making rounds Thursday.

It’s the second year of firework patrols, an emphasis aimed at educating the public versus all-out enforcement.

Tumwater Police Chief John Stines personally did the patrol one of the nights last year.

“We made a lot of contacts — mostly educational — and no enforcement was taken,” Stines said. “That’s not really the primary motivation of this. Most of the people we ran into were actually doing this right, and I don’t recall making any contact with people that had illegal fireworks.”

Fireworks can be legally discharged within Tumwater limits from 3 p.m.-11 p.m. Thursday. They also are legal between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Thursday in unincorporated Thurston County.

The sale and discharge of fireworks is illegal in Olympia and Lacey.

The city of Tumwater shortened its hours for the first time this year, adding an additional piece to the education part of the patrols.

Lt. Carlos Quiles will be joined by assistant fire chief Jim McGarva for the rounds Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday’s first round of patrols was between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

“That is our focus. … We will show up and make sure people are doing things legally,” Quiles said.

There will not be an increased deputy presence in Thurston County, according to Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin.

“Call volume goes up noticeably, and invariably this time of year we have some sort of tragedy — some sort of serious injury or death as a result of homemade fireworks or canons,” Elwin said.

Elwin attributed an increase in risk to “bigger, louder, faster and stronger” fireworks available.

Despite the dangers, there will be no increased patrols.

“There is nothing increased patrols would do for us on that,” Elwin said. “The canon that blows up in someone’s backyard at the family get-together, no amount of cops can do anything about that.”

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 ckrotzer@theolympian.com theolympian.com/thisjustin @chelseakrotzer

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