EVERETT — Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve are the busiest times for 911.
That is driven in part by fireworks.
More Snohomish County cities are outlawing personal use of the devices, and new bans in Brier and Marysville are in effect this year.
Those who dispatch emergency services have an important message for the holiday weekend: Don’t call 911 about fireworks if there is no threat to people and property. The non-emergency number is a better resource when you want to request a police officer or firefighter, but don’t need 911-type resources.
The non-emergency number still goes to the same people, but it allows dispatchers to prioritize more pressing calls about injuries and fires.
June 1 marked the first year of the county’s non-emergency number. The calls are answered by two local 911 centers: SNOPAC in Everett, which serves the city and areas north and east, and SNOCOM in Mountlake Terrace serving southwest county.
From January 2017 through May, together they have fielded 36,578 calls to the non-emergency number.
“We’re seeing a steady increase in the public’s use of it, which is just great,” said Kurt Mills, director of SNOPAC.
There’s a corresponding decrease in 911 calls, SNOCOM Director Terry Peterson said.
“If you’re not certain if your situation is an emergency or not, go ahead and call 911 and let them help assess,” he said.
Other ways to use the non-emergency line include following up on a police report or calling in graffiti or an abandoned vehicle. Don’t call 911 to ask about police activity in your neighborhood. Dispatchers are not allowed to disclose information.
Local fireworks rules could keep changing.
The Snohomish County Council last year passed a law that allows neighborhoods in unincorporated areas to create local fireworks bans. As of late June, no one had pursued one.
The area must include 50 or more single-family homes or cover at least one square mile. At least 51 percent of the area’s registered voters must sign a petition supporting the ban.
Also last year, the County Council granted the county fire marshal the power to impose emergency bans on fireworks during times of extreme drought.
Reporter Noah Haglund contributed to this story.
Local rules for discharging legal fireworks:
Arlington: July 4, 9 a.m. to midnight.
Bothell: July 4, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Brier: Banned. (New this year.)
Darrington: July 4, 9 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
Gold Bar: Banned.
Granite Falls: July 4, 9 a.m. to midnight.
Index: July 4, 9 a.m. to midnight.
Lake Stevens: July 4, 9 a.m. to midnight.
Marysville: Banned. (New this year.)
Mill Creek: Banned.
Monroe: July 4, 9 a.m. to midnight.
Mountlake Terrace: Banned.
Snohomish: July 4, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Times are new this year.)
Stanwood: No restrictions other than state law.
Sultan: No restrictions other than state law.
Unincorporated Island County, including Camano Island: July 3, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 4, 9 a.m. to midnight. July 5, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Times are new this year.)
Unincorporated Snohomish County: July 4, 9 a.m. to midnight.
The non-emergency number is for situations when someone needs a police officer or a firefighter but there is no immediate threat to life or property. Any immediate threat should prompt a call to 911. The hotline is manned around the clock by dispatchers who will prioritize calls.
In southwest Snohomish County, dial 425-775-3000. In the rest of Snohomish County, including Everett and areas north and east of the city, dial 425-407-3999. If you’re not sure which 911 area you live in, go to gismaps.snoco.org/non-emergency. Consider programming the number into your smartphone.
In Bothell city limits, dial 425-486-1254.
It is not appropriate to text 911 about fireworks. Texting 911 is for situations when a voice call cannot be made, such as for someone with a disability or a crime victim who cannot talk without compromising safety.
To report a power outage, contact the Snohomish County PUD at 425-783-1001, not 911.
Fireworks safety tips
Local fire departments recommend attending a public display instead of using personal fireworks. If you must, the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office says:
• Be prepared: Have water nearby and put pets indoors.
• Be safe: Only adults should light fireworks. Don’t relight duds.
• Be responsible: Clean up fireworks debris.