Fire crews gear up for the 4th of July

Fire crews gear up for the 4th of July
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. - Firefighters are facing the same conditions as the last Fourth of July.

Extreme heat, dry earth and fireworks that could turn the region into a powder keg.

Richland Fire Battalion Chief Curt Walsh said,"In the past since I've been here we've had a firefighter get killed in the mid 90's on the 4th of July."

Last year, crews were reactive, going to a fire call when it came in.
This year, a new plan of attack for the Fourth. Benton County will be split into different zones.

West Richland Fire Chief Bill Whelan said, "Just on the areas that we think might have the potential where we know people go to light off fireworks so that we have those areas covered."

Crews will be assigned to those areas, overstaffed and on call.
Extra backups could be called in Wednesday. Those not on duty will be on patrol. Especially since West Richland allows bottle rockets.

Fireworks are to blame for 3 separate fires over the past few days. Crews tell KEPR they hope this isn't a preview of what's to come especially with hotter than normal temperatures.

While many would like an all out fireworks ban many others see it as a non-negotiable part of the holiday.

Sue Karaglosis doesn't buy fireworks but isn't necessarily against them. She said, "I would hate for them to give it up. It has to be a balance, right?"

Since they're already legal, Richland firefighters asked that you consider holding off until at least the fourth or don't light them at all.

Sue said, "We will probably driver over to the river where we know that they offer shows in which we can see them and not have the danger or responsibility."

Crews will keep operating at a category four the highest of their alert system.