Bolstered by financial support from the State-Approved Fireworks industry and the nonprofits that sell Safe and Sane fireworks, local police and fire officials plan to vigorously enforce state laws that allow them to cite those who sell, possess or use illegal fireworks. Those cited face fines of up to $50,000 and jail terms of up to one year. In addition, parents may be held liable for any fire damage or injury caused by their children using illegal fireworks.
“There is no excuse for breaking the law when it comes to fireworks. Californians have plenty of ways to safely celebrate the Fourth of July without using bottle rockets, aerial shells and other bootlegged, illegal pyrotechnics that can cause devastating injuries and damage property,” said Tonya Hoover, California State Fire Marshal. “If you are someone who thinks using illegal fireworks are exciting or someone who is trying to make a profit from selling illegal fireworks, we are determined to stop you.”
“Years ago, it might have seemed like an innocent act to set off bottle rockets, but even then people were injured.. Today, we are seeing a growing influx of high-powered, sophisticated pyrotechnics brought in by criminal entrepreneurs or purchased over the Internet and shipped illegally. I urge our citizens and visitors not to purchase or use these dangerous devices.”
California has approved a variety of Safe and Sane fireworks that offer exciting displays but do not go up into the air, explode, or move about on the ground in an uncontrolled manner. These go on sale every year in the week before the Fourth of July and are the only legal fireworks for use on the holiday.
“More than 3,300 nonprofit organizations rely on fireworks sales to raise more than $35 million to support the many community services they provide,” said Dennis Revell, spokesperson for TNT Fireworks, the nation’s largest distributor of legal fireworks. “These nonprofits are more important than ever now, with the economy putting more people in need of services just when all levels of government are forced to cut back on programs.”
With many local police and fire agencies under budget pressure, the 457 Sacramento-area nonprofits that sell State-Approved Fireworks and the companies that provide these legal fireworks are earmarking some of the funds generated by fireworks sales to help underwrite local teams to patrol, identify those using or selling illegal fireworks, and issue citations. They are also providing funding to help with prosecution efforts.
“We’re all on the same side – doing our best to protect those who want to celebrate the Fourth of July by making sure they have safe ways to do so,” Revell said. “We’re proud to be part of the effort to eliminate the criminals who would put our children and our homes at risk by selling or using dangerous fireworks.”
Read the full press release here.