Friday, Jun. 29, 2012
Officials on lookout for illegal fireworks
By Thaddeus Miller / firstname.lastname@example.org
There will be zero tolerance for illegal fireworks, said Tim Marrison, assistant fire chief for the Los Banos Fire Department.
"Know, if you are caught discharging what we consider illegal or dangerous fireworks, there will be zero tolerance -- no second chances," he said.
The $1,000 fine for first-time infractions affirmed in 2010 by City Council is in place for illegal fireworks users. The fine carries an additional $250 charge from the California Fire Marshal's Office, which disposes of the illegal material. Fines increase after subsequent infractions.
Certain fireworks are prohibited throughout the state and year. Under California law, illegal fireworks include sky rockets, bottle rockets, Roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers and other miscellaneous types that explode, go up in the air or move about the ground in an uncontrollable fashion.
"The key thing is [that] if it leaves the ground or explodes, it is an illegal firework," Marrison said.
Safe and sane fireworks should also be used with care and during authorized hours. They are permitted from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Sunday to Wednesday.
All safe and sane pyrotechnics sold in the city come with a list of safety tips. They must be used only on the owner's property, which does not include the street.
The city's seven booths selling the safe and sane ilk are run by nonprofit organizations, which were awarded access through a drawing.
Cedar House of Worship runs one of those booths. Rigoberto Lopez, who goes by "Pastor Junior," said his church runs drug rehabilitation, gang intervention, youth and prison ministries. The proceeds from the booth will feed into that and go toward the long-term goal of a rehab center.
"Our vision is to get a rehab home here in Los Banos," Lopez said. "So, we can work with these guys, get them on track so they can be a productive citizen."
Lopez said he's involved in programs in San Quentin State Prison, Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla and California State Prison in Corcoran, and hopes to get into John Latorraca Correctional Facility in Merced County.
Habitat for Humanity Westside and the Police Activities League teamed together for another booth.
Ashlee Williams, development and operations manager for Habitat, said the two nonprofits will split the proceeds.
"It's a joint effort," Williams said. "We're trying to raise as much as possible, so we've been pushing with presale vouchers to buy fireworks."
PAL uses its money for baseball, flag football, softball and other programs for children throughout the year.
Williams said Habitat will use its share for its next home purchase, and repairs it does for homeowners in need of a hand.
"We're focused on rehabbing smaller projects, like repairing roofs (and) fences," Williams said.
The Los Banos Chamber of Commerce's booth benefits its annual show on Wednesday at Pacheco High School's Veterans Memorial Stadium, 200 N. Ward Road. Gates open at 7:30 p.m., and the show is free to the public.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562.