John Miller's phone has been ringing off the hook. Customers will not stop asking him about fireworks.
Miller and his wife, Janice Ventura, have owned Boomtown Fireworks in Bremerton for 15 years. Since the pandemic began, firework sales have been the highest Miller and Ventura have ever seen. They can't know what this year's sales will be, they said, but demand so far has remained high.
The Washington State Patrol issued 25 licenses for retail fireworks stands in Kitsap County this year.
Yet as events like last month's Bremerton Bridge Blast have returned, global shortages and the rising prices of pyrotechnics have become apparent to retailers and event planners.
Ninety-five percent of U.S. fireworks retailers ship their product from China, according to USA TODAY, including Boomtown, Since 2020, shortages due to the pandemic have led to shipment delays and contributed to an uptick in firework prices across the country.
The cost of Boomtown's inventory, which includes prices to ship it from China, rose from $10,000 in 2019 to $35,500 in 2022.
These numbers do not include the $5,000 Boomtown pays to truck fireworks from the California ports where they arrive to Bremerton, an expense that Ventura said increased in 2022 because of higher gas prices and the nationwide shortage of truckers.
Ventura said that unfortunately, most of the increase in transportation costs is passed onto consumers.
Firework bans in Kitsap cities
Consumer demand for fireworks remains high despite efforts to prohibit the sale and use of fireworks in Kitsap County, according to retailers.
In April, the Port Orchard City Council voted 5-2 against a city fireworks ban. The ban failed because the preceding community-wide survey and public hearing drew too few respondents, according to Port Orchard council members. Of the residents who did vote in the survey, results show two-thirds support for the ban.
Bainbridge Island is the only city in Kitsap County with a fireworks ban, which took effect in October 2020 after being passed in 2019. Small novelty items like party poppers and glow-worms are allowed, but incendiary devices like sparklers, cone fountains and firecrackers are not.
There are no burn bans currently in effect in Kitsap County, unlike in 2021, when the state of Washington instituted a Phase 1 burn ban beginning June 26, weeks earlier than usual. The record-high heat wave had led to atypical dryness and made fireworks more likely to ignite a fire.
The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners temporarily prohibited certain fireworks in 2019 over concern about hot, dry conditions but has not instituted similar prohibitions since.
Law enforcement: Don't call 911 for fireworks complaints
The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office and the police departments of Port Orchard, Bremerton, Poulsbo, Suquamish and Port Gamble announced on Tuesday that they will not be responding to fireworks complaints, even if illegal, unless they pose an imminent threat to life or property.
Agencies advised residents not to call 911 for nuisance complaints and to instead report them at www.kitsap911.org. Kitsap 911 cited the need to leave 911 lines open to emergencies as the rationale.
On Bainbridge Island, illegal firework complaints may be directed to the Bainbridge Island Police Department at 206-842-5211.
Firework discharge periods differ from city to city and in the county.
In Kitsap County, firework discharge periods are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 4.
In Bremerton and Port Orchard, the discharge of fireworks is allowed from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 4.
In Poulsbo, fireworks are allowed from June 28 to July 5 each year. Fireworks are allowed between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. each day up until July 4, and between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on July 5.
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: In Kitsap, fireworks, like everything else, are more expensive this year