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Bend fireworks stand operators react to city’s use ban: ‘It’s anti-American’

'We haven't even paid expenses'

(Update: Adding video, more of Bend fireworks stand operators' reaction, comments from Pastor Dennis)

Even legal fireworks use can bring $750 fines; Vince Genna Stadium, Pilot Butte displays only exceptions; way paved for more cooling centers

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The City of Bend on Monday declared a local state of emergency in response to the ongoing extremely high temperatures forecast by the National Weather Service Excessive Heat Warning and the high risk for fire during this summer’s drought conditions -- including efforts to add cooling centers and a ban on all public fireworks use through July 9.

But the move could be putting local firework stands like Discount Fireworks Superstore in north Bend in a tough spot as we approach the Fourth of July.

Pastor Jack Dennis of Believers Cornerstone Fellowship Church has been operating the nonprofit fireworks stand for 15 years, to benefit local charities. He said the city's decision could be "very devastating."

Dennis says they do the majority of their sales in the four days leading up to July 4th, but the ban could keep potential customers from making purchases.

"We haven't even paid expenses," Dennis said.

Throughout their 15 years of business, Dennis says they've always stressed the importance of safety and have maintained a strong relationship with the city and community members.

"Practice safety. We push that," Dennis said. "Read the label on the firework, they're very distinct and we're thankful we haven't had any problems."

And although he says he is frustrated by the ban, he understands city officials have to do what's best for everyone.

"I understand," Dennis said. "They're trying to do what's right for this city. I'm sympathetic to that."

But he says he ultimately wishes their stand had more of a heads up in order to ensure their charity work proceeds as planned.

"Give us a chance to speak our heart," Dennis said. "I'm going to speak up and say there's a better way."

His son, Jake Dennis, who works alongside him at the stand, says the city has taken things too far and the ban is "anti-American."

"Directly telling us what we can and cannot do on our driveway to celebrate our freedom, our liberty -- and then to threaten us with a $750 ticket," Dennis said.

But the city says it's a needed step, due to the high fire danger.

"We know it's been a long year-plus, and that you're ready to celebrate," said City Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Gena Goodman-Campbell. "And we would just ask you to find safe ways to do that without, lighting fireworks."

But Jake Dennis said the small step leaves him wondering, what's next?

"I feel strongly about this," he said. "And maybe some other people don't agree with how I feel about fireworks -- it's such a small thing. But what happens when they come for something you believe, something that you stand up for?"

Here's the rest of the city's announcement:

The emergency order includes mobilizing city resources to provide support services to unhoused community members and the immediate ban on the use of all fireworks – legal or illegal – within the city of Bend.

“This heat is taking its toll on our community, especially those who are unhoused,” said City of Bend Chief Operating Officer and Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore. “We need our public resources focused on supporting our community and saving lives right now. Allowing fireworks during this drought would create unnecessary fire risk and stress our limited public safety and water resources even more.”

The declaration of a local state of emergency is effective immediately and remains in effect through July 9. It allows for temporary emergency policies to respond to the crisis and preserve limited public safety and water resources.

Responding to Public Health Emergency

The city has been in contact with other local public entities, as well as service providers who serve the unhoused members of the Bend community. That coordination has resulted in opening cooling shelters, but the City may require more flexibility to assist with meeting the immediate needs of the community during this emergency.

Under the emergency order, the city may relax, adjust, or waive any requirements, standards, criteria, or application of the Bend Municipal Code, Bend Development Code, or other regulations for the purpose of addressing the public health emergency caused by this extreme heat.

Fireworks

Professional fireworks displays at Vince Genna Stadium (July 3) and Pilot Butte State Park (July 4) will continue as scheduled. These professional fireworks displays have been approved by the State Fire Marshal and Bend Fire & Rescue. They include plans to reduce the risk for fire and quickly respond to any fire incidents related to the events. The use of all other fireworks in Bend is banned through July 9.

Under the emergency order, use of any fireworks is a Class A civil infraction and carries a penalty of a fine up to $750. The city is asking for the community’s support in keeping Bend safe by complying with the ban on fireworks.

Community members are encouraged to report the use of fireworks via email at fireworks@bendoregon.gov. Use of fireworks posing an immediate risk to persons or property are emergencies and should be reported by calling 911. Response to all 911 calls for service are based on priority.

City spokesman Joshua Romero told NewsChannel 21 the ban on fireworks use apparently is a first for the city of Bend.

Romero also noted that the state of emergency order does not include a ban on the sale or purchase of fireworks that are legal in Oregon, which means "the city is not shutting down fireworks stands."

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.

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Comments

174 Comments

  1. Oh, the overreaching jackbooted government tyranny of it all!!! This is how is starts!!! With lots of exclamation points!!! Aiiiieeee!!!!!!!!!!

    1. This poor “Preacher” trying for sympathy by preaching to Trump Humpers. “It’s Un-American. Because nothing says “Muerica” like setting your neighborhood on fire.

      1. This is just factually inaccurate. And I know because my drunk neighbors lot a Roman candle last weekend that ended up in the space between our neighborhood and the railroad tracks. The whole area almost went up and it would have been a true disaster for hundreds of homes if it got out of control.

    1. Thank you city of Bend. Sad to see the shortsighted and selfish comments regarding the decision to protect everyone against a senseless fire. How can this even be considered Anti American. I am disgusted with people only thinking of themselves. Not considering the severe consequences to their Actions. In most cases those setting off the fireworks won’t burn down their own homes. Common sense just simple common sense

      1. When it does result in fires, like it does even in cool wet years, it’s from idiots that hand these fireworks out to their children to light off. Here you go my little RWNJ 6 year old, go burn up the neighborhood, because America! BTW, our Loser fake ex president is not going to be annointed Grand Poobah of Americas Traitors in August or any other time. The criminal Un American POS is going to prison.

      2. Common sense yes, but the hysteria around fireworks is not necessarily backed up with facts or statistics. While it makes everybody feel good to ban fireworks the reality is if you really wanted to prevent fires in the city of bend you would ban smoking, briquet BBQs, improper wiring, you know all the things that actually cause the fires.

        1. Like the homeless camps which are well known to have multiple fires for various purposes. Do they get a $750 fine also or is that only for tax paying citizens with a job?

    1. Tell me, (I tried google myself) when was the last time legal fireworks caused fires in the city? Annoying in the neighborhoods? sure, dangerous? nope.

      1. I had a neighbor once who started a fire in a vacant lot behind our place. Truth be told, it was a bottle rocket, and the fire was quickly put out; I’m sure it was never reported.

      2. legal fireworks burned 50,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge in 2017 and we are in unprecedented heat wave and extreme drought, but sure, what could go wrong?!

      3. I’m in a different city in Central Oregon and we had 6 fires last year. All before the Fourth. One went up into a canyon and quite a few people were evacuated. They were able to get it under control quickly, but if it had been a windy day that might not have been the case. There is a lot of city with driveways and roads that are not paved and clear of debris.

      4. I suppose if you don’t like it but want to remain legal, there’s a city limits line just down the street and around the corner that you could head to.

      5. If it hasn’t happened in THIS CITY, it’s irrelevant? After every tragedy, there are people who say, “We never thought it would happen here.” There are thousands of fireworks related injuries annually; more than a third of the victims are children. People who do fireworks are inconsiderate and irresponsible. Folks are here complaining because the city government takes responsible action to prevent tragedy; I see to the left of this article the headline: Deadly Portland fire caused by fireworks, officials say.

    1. yeah and we should ban celebration of the 4th of July too! We all know that a bunch of slave-owning self centered white guys started a new country based on freedom and equality for all. Why even celebrate that?

  2. It’s only going to be in the low 90s on the 4th. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just more restrictions and regulations by our corrupt leaders.

    Why no actions against the illegal camping all over our city streets and intersections? These homeless have started more fires than fireworks.

        1. Oh, I get it! A pot joke. What? Go ahead and light your fireworks on the 4th cuz it would be so un-American to think of others like the homeless than yourself. Tool much?

    1. I wondered who would be the first on this site to pull the “we have rights” and victimhood cards (it’s not us – it’s the homeless!). Ding, ding, ding! You’re the winner!

      1. “Shoot them off” would be illegal, ground-based, in the street? you will be fine. But go ahead and cheer something else taken away by your overlords.

        1. Jack-A (oh…I meant O)…

          Since I don’t enjoy or appreciate fireworks, it’s safe to say the proper terminology eludes me. In fact: I despise them. Much like I despise ignorance and arrogance.

          And I have zero overloads ruling me.

          Happy trails!

    2. Allow them onto your land, and into your home, they aren’t going away just for the convenience of the shameful fake Christians on here. Hatred of your fellow human being when they are down is the calling of all fake Christians.

      1. Are you one of them eric? I used to be, about 50 yrs ago. They are here to milk the system. Why, because it’s free. They have every opportunity to get a job, but they don’t want to work. Because they can live free and be taken care of for nothing. The only sacrifice is their pride, which looks like they gave up a long time ago. These people are creatures of opportunity, They may be down and out but they’re ok with it.

        1. You say you were “one of them” a half century ago? Did you become a contributing community member by yourself or did someone help you get there? I’ll bet if you think hard, you’ll remember somebody giving you a break – maybe an employer who gave you the benefit of a doubt? If so, have you ever paid it forward or taken it for granted and just complain about all the human beings you now lump together as useless freeloaders?

          1. It was a learning curve in my life. I was a rebellious teen, and exploring ways of life. I had no father figure, my parents split a couple years before. It didn’t take long, probably less than 6 months for me to figure out on my own that life is what you make it. No breaks in life, and never expected any. I worked hard all my life and now it’s time to reap what I have sown. I’m rich with experience and I own everything I have. Now if I won the lottery, I could be convinced to donate some cash, but only to someone who was a hard worker and was struggling financially. But remember, I’ve been there and rewards are granted for good deeds and hard work. That doesn’t mean standing on a corner begging for money. Please don’t put words in my mouth I didn’t say. And with that being said if the shoe fits, own up to it. An individual can be what they want, but I have no respect for anyone who can’t respect themselves.

  3. Unreal, about damn time. Should be a permanent ban we don’t need fireworks here in the hands of people that aren’t to smart.
    Now where’s the county on this???
    An city and count before another disaster and we have smoke all summer.

  4. This is yet another joke from the idiots that are the “leaders” of Bend. Who is going to enforce this? Too little and too late, very likely a lame attempt to cover their backsides. Nice

  5. Get with the times!
    Synchronize aerial drone displays.
    Laser light shows.

    No need to simulate War, with artillery style ordinance.

    That same damned tree on the north east side, catches on fire every year.

    1. Totally agree. I think some folks might just drive out of city limits which could cause way more of a risk. What department at a county level has the power to call it?

  6. Definitely too little too late, I love my country but I also know the dangers of heat and flammable objects, other ways to celebrate the 4th without burning down the neighborhood.

  7. Excellent! watch the LOW IQ MAGA Crowd go nuts! lol! This is a common sense move! If You are over the age of 12, fireworks and loud bangs and booms should be exactly what they are, BORING!Leave the fireworks to the Joe Dirt Crowd!

    1. Spoken like a true liberal nut job. If you don’t like it, then it should be banned. How about you just don’t purchase/use them? I’m going to bet you think guns should be banned too…

        1. I’ve lived in Central Oregon for 41 years. You know how many of those years it’s been dry and hot on the 4th of July? About 40. This has nothing to do with public safety.

        2. C O, Everything these days is a liberal vs conservative argument. It’s been that way for about 5 years. Health, safety, weather–even Truth itself is a political argument.

  8. How are they gonna stop people? I spent way too much money on fireworks I’ll launch them if I please. Why keep firework stands open if they are banned? Tax revenue? These same idiots that banned the fireworks are the same idiots that allowed the homeless situation to spiral out of control in Bend and allowed them to camp right by the highway. I hate these people in charge.

    1. As Spike Lee said in response to a critical review of one his films, “If you don’t like my movies, then make your own.” Mount a campaign to become one of “these people in charge.” Or, like, you know — shut up.

    2. A fool and his money will soon part. It was your choice to waste your money on fireworks. No one cares. However, we all would prefer you act like a responsible adult, how fair is it to the one’s who’s house gets burnt down because of your selfish needs.

  9. So I live outside the city and I can still set off fireworks. Think I will be responsible and not do that but instead shoot my AR-15 a couple of times. That would be safer!

      1. Does not give me much confidence knowing that there will still be all kinds of things launched into the air and knowing how easy it is to ignite a Juniper or sagebrush. Would like to see the police agencies come out with a zero tolerance statement that those caught will be cited.

  10. I have always thought that it would be a good idea to celebrate it on a wet month. No fire hazard and it gets dark sooner. Also, a bit colder to discourage the folks that want to explode stuff all through the night.

  11. For anyone moaning about their rights being infringed, do us a favor and drive through Detroit and see how whole town‘s can be destroyed with fire. Fire is fire and it’s more powerful than anybody’s rights. Remember last year smoke last September when most of us couldn’t even go outdoors. No need to make this political, common sense is all we need to keep our home beautiful and safe for everybody who is lucky enough to live here.

  12. ….

    Back in MY day, we shot the fireworks over Mirror Pond. That ended what about 1975 or so? That was before the communists took over our state and took my guns and my bible.

    1. I thought you were a moderator Barney? Your snide question is worthy of KTVNN. I’ll give up fireworks for a year if that Olympian will respect the flag and country that she does not deserve.

  13. Commies everywhere. Banning everything good and fun. They just want us all high all the time to mind control us into debt slaves for the Illuminati or something. Ban the fun stuff that doesn’t include mind altering substances.

    1. You remind me of Ted Kazensky’s “Ship of Fools”.
      ‘The ship is about to hit an ice burg! We have to evacuate!

      ‘Not right now. I’m reading the bible & cleaning my gun. Your infringing on my 2nd amendment rights.
      Your infringing on my freedom of religion. ‘

  14. “Bend Fireworks Stand Operators” AKA
    Voted for Trump
    Didn’t get Vaccinated but are now walking around with no masks on
    Think the election was rigged
    Delusional

    1. You have no clue who this person voted for, if they were vaccinated or if they wear/wore a mask when mandated. I would say you’re the delusional and intolerant one.

    2. I voted for trump
      I got vaccinated.
      I will wear a mask when it is required by the store or restaurant I want to go into, but I also believe that masks do not work.
      I don.t think the election was rigged, although I do think the voting laws should be reformed
      I don’t shoot fireworks or care if anyone else does as long as they are adults, not drunk or high, use common sense, and are responsible for they’re actions.
      And I get really tired and annoyed when all of you blame every single problem on people who voted or think differently from you.
      Racist much?

      1. Where does race enter into anything that anyone said? It’s less of a problem with thinking differently and more of an actual thinking at all issue.

  15. I lived in Fairbanks Alaska for 5 or so years, can’t see the fireworks well on the 4th so most shows are done on New Years, much colder but fire danger is very low and everybody in town has mortars to launch all night long.

  16. While I am relieved by this news, the business owners are distressed. It’s been a difficult year and this man is disappointed and possibly afraid to not have income or cover costs of debts. I hope he recieves relief and maybe reinvents himself into alternatives like laser light shows, glow sticks, piñatas, bubbles, water fight toys, or maybe even firefighter care packages (sponsor a firefighter or displaced family fund) as a new tradition. You can help and we can help you help. It really is a bad year and so sorry for your struggles. For families, here are some ideas: https://www.parenting.com/holidays/10-fun-alternatives-to-fireworks/

    1. I am all for having my community not burn down. When they say it’s not about money, it is about money. They are a church organization and it is high time they pay their fare share of taxes.

  17. The more they control, the bigger the push back will be when we snap. Just saying. They keep seeing how easily it is to control and everyone but the sheep will react.
    Just saying.

  18. That’s the most ridiculous comment..You Woke folks are about the most judgemental,racist, intolerant people on the planet..yea fireworks mean you voted for Trump..WTH? The guys not president let it go already…

  19. In reference to my above comment. As a business they should have been consulted at the very least. I think some compensation is due to their loss of business. The young man is right, think about if it was something you believe in.

  20. As droughts becomes deeper and longer it’s unlikely that the business of selling devices that hurl fire will survive. Gotta find another line of work.

  21. Moving it to the 9th is not going to make it any less dry nor make people use fireworks any more responsibly. Fourth of July is not a day for celebrating fireworks. Its a day for celebrating our break off from England. I am sure that 1000’s of Veterans suffering from PTSD and million of pets would be better off if we didn’t have them at all. As for me. I stopped celebrating it last year when our rights were taken away.

  22. Hmmmm…

    Seaside cancelled their fireworks this year –

    “July 4 @ 10:00 pm
    “4th of July Fireworks – CANCELLED

    “The 2021 4th of July fireworks display will not take place in 2021. Looking forward to celebrating in 2022.”

    Portland, likewise – https://www.travelportland.com/events/fourth-of-july/

    And this link will take you to those events still on and those cancelled throughout the state for the 4th of July –

    https://www.oregonlive.com/events/2021/06/2021-fourth-of-july-in-oregon-what-fireworks-shows-parades-and-rodeos-are-on-and-whats-canceled.html

    And Prineville is holding a grand event on the 4th for those not wishing to be confined by Bend’s edict – https://festivalnet.com/44633/Prineville-Oregon/Holiday-Celebrations/Old-Fashion-Fourth-of-July

    Just say’in –

    1. Maybe this year the annual 4th of July Fire will negatively impact the data ranchers that own Prineville these days. One can hope.

      All laws are anti-freedom and thus commynizum.
      Do Not Comply !

  23. The timing of this is interesting – couldn’t have done this a couple weeks ago, better to wait till all the stands have all their inventory in the tents then tell them they can’t sell any of it…

  24. Fireworks are legal to sell year around from the Oregon border to the east coast. They have no problems. It appears that only in Oregon, California and Washington are people to stupid to not be careful.

  25. So tired of the triggered snowflakes screaming about their “rights.”

    These are the same folks that are responsible for Covid superspreading to everyone else and all the variants being allowed to incubate in unvaccinated populations.

    Also the same folks who want an AK47 in the hands of every idiot.

    It’s the “Me! ME! Me!” People who don’t give a rat’s behind about ANYONE else.

    1. This is the argument for every subject for socialism and communism. If you don’t like that people push back on continual regulations and control by government because people want the country to remain as it was envisioned when the country was created, then you need to live in another country.

    1. What a ridiculous perspective on this!

      This is about community safety. Not our rights. It’s not a threat to our rights. We don’t even have the right to launch fireworks on the fourth of July. It’s a simple custom… That’s it. If you don’t like Bend and want to risk it burning down so you can go “ooo and ahh” at the bangs and sparkles I feel concerned for this town.

      Do you really want to be responsible for someone’s house burning down or a tinder dry field going up in flames and getting out of hand before the fire dept can respond because they’re responding to 20 other small fires all over town? Do you not appreciate their services that they provide you for pennies on the dollar?

      1. Bend is a mess because of people like you who believe government’s role is to protect citizens. I believe in choice, freedom, limited government oversight and personal responsibility. The point I am making is that the government is becoming too comfortable limiting our rights.

  26. I am so confused by many of the comments and especially the one from the church. I would think people would want to preserve this lovely place we live and I would also think people would feel some care toward veterans, victims of gun violence, victims of intimate partner violence suffering from PTSD and the pets and wildlife impacted by the sound.

    The Aubrey Hall fire was terrifying. Healing from the loss of life and shelter due to fire is a long road. Prevention doesn’t seem radical, left, or “anti-American” to me!

  27. It doesn’t matter if you like the Pastor who is complaining about his rights or how he is saying it. Keep in mind there are dozens of tents in CO. KTVZ like to chose whackadoos for their interviews. The truth is that it does stink for vendors that are trying to make money that they ban the sale of the fireworks this close to the 4th. They are going to lose money. If it was you, you would feel the same way. This should have been done months ago before they purchased their inventory. The vendors did nothing wrong by opening up their tent. At the time it was still legal.

    Having said that, its way past the time to completely do away with fireworks sales. I ran a tent for 15 years. Yes they are extremely profitable but it’s just to dangerous anymore. Plus they are a major rip-off. If people chose to purchase fireworks elsewhere then they chose to face the consequences.

    1. scientist, agreed. tRump gave us “the China virus” and now we’ll have “the China Inferno”…it will always be some foreigner’s fault that America is no longer the greatest. Americans’ “rights” are driving this country onto the path of extinction..Will we EVER get a clue?

    2. Why confused? It’s called hypocrisy. Just like espousing “Christian” virtues but supporting lying, misogynistic, authoritarian politicians from the pulpit.

  28. Too bad common sense and due caution has become “Anti-American”. Good grief. I would think burning down your neighborhood on purpose (or “accidentally” because you simply MUST exercise your “rights” ) would be anti-American. All ya’all who are feeling downtrodden can still take your legal AK’s out and shoot’em up into the air on the 4th…That’ll show ’em they can’t tell YOU what to do ! Yahooooo !!!

  29. This is irresponsible journalism on KTVZ’s part. It’s an inflammatory headline designed as click bait for the reader. It doesn’t take a lot of logic to realize how dangerous setting off fireworks in the middle of a drought and record setting temperatures will be. The local government is doing it’s job protecting life and property from the fire risk. There will of course always be some uniformed person saying ignorant things about government doing it’s job, especially when their own financial interests are involved. KTVZ had a choice to report on the overwhelmingly right and logical thing which is to ban fireworks at this time, or they had the choice to report some inflammatory rhetoric an uninformed firework operator was quoted as saying. They chose to report on the latter which is click bait garbage and dangerous misinformation for the citizens of Bend. If the government protecting citizens from idiots lighting fires is “unAmerican” being American is idiotic.

  30. Oh for crying out loud! The man said this is “anti-American”. How ridiculous. He has no idea ALL of the freedoms that he has taken for granted while living in this country. This matter of banning fireworks comes down to applying common sense. Evaluating the risks. Acting sensible. Not acting constantly offended and that every little thing is an infringement of their “freedoms”. GROW UP! Stop acting like a sniveling, self-centered, spoiled rotten brat! And I might add, will the people who are complaining about “government over reach” be the same one’s that’ll be first in line complaining that FEMA hasn’t moved fast enough to provide them with trailers after their neighborhood or small town burn down.

  31. OK, I just have to make sure I have all this right… Step 1) Claim it’s “Anti-American!”, Step 2) Accuse Governor Brown, the Bend City Council, Deschutes County and whomever else you can vilify as being Communists. Step 3) Run down to the nearest fireworks tent and prove what a proud American you are by purchasing fireworks that were made in China (which is ACTUALLY Communist). Step 4) Rinse. Step 5) Repeat.

    Is this right? Just want to make sure that milk was shooting out of my nose for a good reason when I was reading some of these laments of sheer outrage. Irony is apparently lost on more than a few of the commenters on this board.

  32. Hey Pastor Dennis and Son,

    Just this morning I got down on my knees and prayed to goddess that she would shut down all firework sales in areas experiencing extreme drought. It worked!

  33. 150 commenters all missed the point. This announcement means absolutely nothing, without enforcement. In Portland, they made the same announcement, followed by telling the public that there would be no enforcement, please don’t call 911 to complain about illegal fireworks. They should have done the same thing here, because the result will be the same.

    1. If you do, please do not call 911, call the non-emergency number. 911 operators will already be overwhelmed with true emergencies, and you call just might get in the way of response to a true emergency. Not a lecture, just a fact.

  34. We are currently experiencing a drought, with dry conditions similar to those seen in late August, not June. A ban on fireworks by the average Joe makes sense to me and I am simply amazed at the anti-American comments from those people whining that they can’t utilize their “God-given right” to light fireworks and celebrate America. Do any of you have any idea where all the fireworks are manufactured and come from?? How about “made in China”? Have you noticed that prices have gone up? Know why? Because of the tariffs #45 put on everything. Jeeze. Do your research.

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