It’s not as if the Ocean Shores Fire Department spends every available moment training for a two-day stretch of incredible intensity. For much of the year, it’s more like the title of the Willie Nelson hit, “You Were Always on My Mind.”
But it is almost upon us now, and the tune for local firefighters is now more like the Electric Light Orchestra hit, “Can’t Get It Out of My Head.” It’s the annual invasion of the beach and the fortune in family fun and fireworks that have come to define the July 3-4 explosive extravaganza that brings tens of thousands of people and a correspondingly large pile of incendiary devices to Ocean Shores and the North Coast.
Each year, it’s “all hands on deck” for the OSFD, and they add paid firefighters from other departments for the two critical shifts, 3 p.m. to midnight July 3-4.
This year, according to Corey Kuhl, a career firefighter/paramedic and OSFD public information officer who was recently promoted to captain, because the Fourth is on a Thursday and some folks may extend their celebrations into the weekend, they will keep some of the extra help Friday and Saturday.
Kuhl said the total staffing will be 37 professionals, about half of those add-ons. He explained they will be teamed with OSFD members, and assigned to beach approaches, fire watch settings and backup duties.
The department will be patrolling the beach with two brush fire rigs plus command units. Two engines and two personnel carriers will be positioned at the beach approaches. They will have four ambulances available.
Kuhl said he expects emergency calls to run about 80% ambulance and 20% fire for those days, similar to the calls on ordinary days. The difference, of course, is thousands of people intentionally setting small fires up and down the beach, and the potential complexities involved in fighting large fires in the dunes that are close to houses or hotels.
Simply having a strong presence on the beach, Kuhl believes is “our number one reason for success.” By being visible and engaging in friendly interaction with folks, “we create a relationship early in the day and by the evening they’ve seen us. The law and fire presence is a good reminder, and most people try to mind. There’s a lot of self-policing.”
The following is the official announcement on rules and regulations relating to the Fourth of July holiday period in Ocean Shores:
Fourth of July in Ocean Shores
The Ocean Shores Fire Department and the Ocean Shores Police Department would like you and your family to have a fun and safe Fourth of July in Ocean Shores. Below is a list of fireworks rules, laws, safety ideas, and tide tables which you should follow in order to enjoy your holiday.
Fireworks may only be discharged during the following dates, and hours:July 2-3 between the hours of noon and 11 p.m.
July 4, between the hours of noon and midnight.
– Fireworks may only be discharged on the beach from the Damon Beach Approach (Best Western) to Marine View Drive Beach Access. Fireworks cannot be discharged in the City.
– Fireworks cannot be used within 100 feet of the dune grass or fired into the dunes.
– Fireworks cannot be discharged from decks or balconies of hotels, motels, or any residential properties.
– Only legal fireworks may be discharged. Firecrackers and bottle-rocket type fireworks are not permitted.
– Absolutely no beach fires within 100 feet of the dunes or in large pieces of driftwood.
– Completely extinguish campfires with water.
– Dispose of garbage and used fireworks properly in garbage containers. Do not leave trash on the beach. Bags will be available at the beach approaches.
– The beach is a state highway and all licensing, registration and rules of the road apply the same as they do on city streets: Maximum speed limit is 25 mph, but possibly slower if beaches are crowded.
– Violation of fireworks, motor vehicle, or other laws can lead to citations ranging from $150 to over $1000.