Police declare zero tolerance on illegal fireworks

Staff ReportJuly 2, 2014 

The Fourth of July is approaching and the city of Chowchilla will have events celebrating Independence Day. This festive holiday draws visitors to the Chowchilla community. Chowchilla public safety professionals want to remind the community and visitors about firework safety and the permitted and prohibited use of fireworks.

The city of Chowchilla Municipal Code 8.24.040 permits the use of “safe and sane” fireworks within the city limits. “Safe and sane” fireworks, as defined by the state Health and Safety Code, may not be sold within the city except for the period from noon on June 28 to noon on July 6 of each year. “Safe and sane” fireworks may be discharged for the seven days prior to and including July 4 of each year. “Safe and sane” fireworks shall include only those fireworks that have been classified and registered as “safe and sane” by the State Fire Marshal.

“Dangerous fireworks” and their use are prohibited within the city limits. The California Health and Safety Code, Section 12505, defines “dangerous fireworks,” as including, in part, all of the following: “firecrackers, skyrockets and rockets, including all devices which employ any combustible or explosive material and which rise in the air during discharge, Roman candles, including all devices which discharge balls of fire into the air, chasers, including all devices which dart or travel about the surface of the ground during discharge, sparklers more than 10 inches in length or one-fourth of one inch in diameter, all fireworks designed and intended by the manufacturer to create the element of surprise upon the user.” The use of these types of fireworks, dangerous fireworks, is prohibited within the city limits unless approved by permit.

People who sell or use illegal fireworks are a danger to themselves, their friends and their communities. There are plenty of alternatives for celebrating the Fourth of July safely without using bottle rockets, aerial shells and other illegal pyrotechnics that can cause injuries and damage property. With all of California in a drought situation, enormous property loss can occur to residences, businesses, landscape and wildlife due to the use of illegal fireworks. In 2013, about 9,000 people in the nation were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks, with most occurring during the week of July 4. Children and young adults under the age of 20, accounted for 46 percent of the estimated injuries. “Safe and sane” fireworks should be used only with extreme caution. Older children should be closely supervised, and younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks, including sparklers.

The California Health and Safety Code, Section 12529 defines “safe and sane” fireworks as any fireworks that do not come within the definition of “dangerous fireworks.” Fireworks known as safe and sane are classified by the State Fire Marshal, pursuant to Health and Safety Code 12567, and bear that designation and may be sold as safe and sane. Safe and sane fireworks may be used within the city limits.

Chowchilla police Lt. David Riviere said members of the police and fire departments will be working with the community ensuring public safety during this year’s July 4 celebrations. “We will have officers patrolling our city streets and assisting with citywide celebratory events. We are hopeful everyone will comply with the provisions of the municipal code and have a safe fun-filled July Fourth celebration.”

Merced Sun-Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service