Proper fireworks disposal prevents injury, fires and waterway contamination

Published Date

Fireworks remain potential sources of fire, injury and pollution long after they light up the night sky. Improper disposal of fireworks puts waste and recycling workers at increased risk of injury from fires in their trucks and at transfer stations.

Fireworks debris, if not properly cleaned up, can be washed into storm drains that lead to streams, rivers and lakes. Fireworks contain heavy metals and other chemicals that can harm fish and wildlife. Residents must sweep up and dispose of fireworks debris as soon as possible and avoid using fireworks near waterways.

Failing to clean up fireworks residue is littering, a violation of Washington law and Clark County ordinance. Clark County Public Works does not provide additional street sweeping after Independence Day.

Tips for proper disposal of used fireworks:

  • Do not place any fireworks or any part of fireworks in your recycling cart. All used fireworks should be treated as garbage and disposed of as follows:
    • Put used fireworks in a bucket of water overnight. Remove them from the water and put them in a garbage bag and into your garbage can.
    • Dump the water onto grass, dirt or other landscape where it won’t flow into a storm drain or waterway. Do not pour onto pavement or into the street.

Tips for proper disposal of unused fireworks:

  • Do not put in your garbage or recycling; they are explosives and can cause serious harm to workers and the environment.
  • Do not take them to the transfer stations; workers cannot accept explosives.
  • Do take unused legal fireworks to a designated drop-off site. Availability of the following locations may change. Call before visiting these locations to see when they are accepting fireworks for disposal. Fireworks must be given directly to personnel, not left in a lobby or outside unattended. Check in with office staff prior to bringing fireworks into the building.
    • Clark County Public Safety Complex, 505 NW 179th St., Ridgefield. 360.397.2186. By appointment only.
    • Camas-Washougal Fire Marshall’s Office, 605 NE Third Ave., Camas. 360.834.6191. By appointment only. 

Do not attempt to move or transport homemade explosive devices or altered fireworks for disposal. They will not be accepted at the above locations. Call 911 and report them for removal.

If a firework fails to ignite, an adult should approach it carefully after at least 15 minutes and place it in a bucket of water. After soaking overnight, remove it from the water and treat it as an unused firework.

Residents should use fireworks only during legal discharge times, which vary across the county. It is illegal to discharge any fireworks in the city of Vancouver.

Marissa Armstrong
communications specialist
Public Health