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Boise Fire Chief Doan Extends Liability to Buyers, Sellers of Illegal Fireworks

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With Fourth of July just weeks away, Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan delivered his yearly reminder of the dangers and implications of illegal fireworks—this time at the site of a massive Foothills fire started by illegal fireworks that had resulted in the person who started it being ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution.

"If you start a fire with a firework that is not safe and sane, [the] Boise Fire Department will seek restitution," Doan said.

Going forward, however, BFD will start obtaining restitution from the sellers of illegal fireworks as well as those who set them off. With an interpretation of Idaho statute by Idaho Attorney General Lawerence Wasden in his proverbial back pocket, Doan said law enforcement will now seek damages from those who sell aerial and other illegal fireworks in the State of Idaho in instances where fires have been traced back to their products.

“Under Idaho law there is no loophole when illegal aerial fireworks are sold to a purchaser that signs an affidavit stating he or she will take the fireworks out of state,” Doan said. “That purchase is considered illegal and only safe and sane fireworks are considered legal.”

Currently, purveyors of illegal fireworks in Idaho ask buyers to sign an affidavit stating they will not light or detonate them in violation of the law. Doan said according to Wasden, that practice does not insulate sellers from responsibility for fires caused by their products.

Doan also added that in advance of Independence Day, he has been approached by citizens with concerns about bright lights and loud sounds. While those are regular features of the holiday, they can be onerous or even dangerous to pets, people with PTSD and people with autism.

Richelle Tierney, the communications and community advocacy coordinator for the Center on Disabilities and Human Development, said Fourth of July can be overwhelming and stressful for those with autism and sensory concerns.

“We just ask that those are setting off fireworks or attending parties to be considerate to those around you that may have Autism, and their families.” Tierney said.