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Law enforcement cracks down on illegal fireworks

Law enforcement cracks down on illegal fireworks

Fireworks will go on sale at noon on Sunday.

POSTED June 27, 2009 5:55 p.m.
Local fire departments and law enforcement agencies are going to be taking a hard-line stance this year when it comes to illegal fireworks.
County officials announced they will enforce a zero tolerance policy this year towards the use or sales of illegal fireworks. Anyone caught with illegal fireworks in the county will be facing a misdemeanor charge that is punishable by a year in county jail, and/or a fine up to $1,000.
“We are not going to be letting people go with a warning,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson. “We will be enforcing the zero tolerance policy.”
The Stanislaus County Fireworks Safety Task Force will be deploying a large number of law enforcement and fire officials to issue citations and if the offense merits it, taking offenders to jail, according to Modesto’s Interim Police Chief Mike Harden, whose agency is participating in the task force.
The fireworks task force was formed in 2005 in response to a high number of fires and injuries caused by illegal fireworks in 2004.
“We want to promote safe community events that celebrate the Fourth of July, without the injuries we have seen in the past,” Christianson said.
New state legislation has changed the way fines for illegal fireworks are calculated. If the gross weight is less than 25 pounds, the fine would be a maximum of $1,000. If over 25 pounds the fine could range all the way up to $50,000 and include jail time.
Legal fireworks in California all carry the label of “Safe and Sane” or “State-Approved.” Besides lacking either of these labels, illegal fireworks often explode in the air instead of remaining on the ground. Any modification done to a legal firework would classify it as an illegal firework, according to the state fire marshall.
In Turlock, whistling fireworks known as “Piccolo Petes” or “Whistlin’ Petes” are also banned because they are easy to modify and explode in the air, said Turlock Fire Department Division Chief Tim Lohman.
The Fourth of July is a busy time for fire departments with most agencies seeing triple the amount of calls for service, Lohman said.
Fireworks go on sale at noon Sunday and can be purchased through noon July 5.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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