Contra Costa fire, law enforcement officials warn of dangers of illegal fireworks during Independence Day holiday weekend

“all fireworks are illegal in Antioch as well as all of Contra Costa County. In addition to the possible $1,000 criminal fine, fireworks pose an extreme fire danger and can cause traumatic injuries.” – Antioch Police Chief T Brooks

Illegal Fireworks Use Poses Extreme Risk of Grievous Bodily Harm and Catastrophic Wildfires During; Current Period of Critically High Fire Danger

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) and local law enforcement agencies across the county, this week warned citizens about the extreme dangers of illegal fireworks during the days leading up to the Independence Day holiday.

Fire and law enforcement leaders reminded residents and visitors that all fireworks, regardless of type or labeling, are illegal everywhere in the county. There are no “Safe & Sane” fireworks, regardless of labeling. Additionally, the potential for grievous bodily harm posed by these illegal devices and the risk of causing catastrophic wildfires during this time of extremely high fire danger is great.

With prolonged warm, dry and windy weather leading up to the Independence Day holiday, fire danger is unusually high making fireworks an even greater threat to our communities than in recent wetter and cooler years. Because of these conditions, in the month of June alone, communities across the District have experienced a nearly fourfold increase in grass and vegetation fires. More than a dozen of these were started by illegal fireworks; many have threatened homes and businesses.

“The only safe and sane approach to fireworks in Contra Costa County is to simply not use them,” said Fire Chief Lewis T. Broschard III, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “They are uncontrollable and dangerous, illegal, and their use poses the very real possibility of causing wildland fires that could easily destroy homes and threaten lives in this time of critically high fire risk.”

“This year, we have seen a tremendous increase in fireworks-related complaints and calls for service compared to previous years,” said Chief Tammany Brooks, Antioch Police Department. “I want to remind everyone that all fireworks are illegal in Antioch as well as all of Contra Costa County. In addition to the possible $1,000 criminal fine, fireworks pose an extreme fire danger and can cause traumatic injuries.”

“Fireworks aren’t just illegal, they’re dangerous. We want you to keep that and your community in mind as we approach the holiday weekend,” said Concord Police Chief Mark Bustillos. “We wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July!”

“Already several weeks into what promises to be a high-risk fire season, we want to remind residents of the very real dangers involved with illegal fireworks,” said Lafayette Police Chief Ben Alldritt. “We owe it to our friends, families, and neighbors to be safe and avoid fireworks risks this Fourth of July holiday — the City of Lafayette wants everyone to be safe and avoid fireworks-related accidents and fires.”

“While Independence Day is a time for celebrating, and we wish you all the best on this holiday, the Martinez Police Department remains steadfast in our commitment to public safety,” said Chief Manjit Sappal. “As such, we wish to make it clear that fireworks are illegal and unsafe; they can cause injury and devastating fire-related damage. Please commit to the safety of your family, friends, and neighbors by not using any fireworks.”

“The Fourth of July is a great time to spend with family and friends, but illegal fireworks continue to be a problem in our community,” said Chief Brian Addington, Pittsburg Police Department. “We have already had more than 350 calls reporting illegal fireworks. We have a zero-tolerance policy; if you are caught with illegal fireworks, expect a $1000 fine, or a trip to jail.”

“We know how disappointed people are by the cancellation of the traditional fireworks shows due to COVID-19, but using illegal fireworks instead is not a safe solution. They pose serious danger to those using them, and to the surrounding community, as well,” said Pleasant Hill Police Chief Bryan Hill. “This year, we are encouraging everyone to celebrate at their place of residence, and to celebrate safely.”

“The pyrotechnic powder in most fireworks is extremely sensitive to heat, shock and friction, and in certain circumstances can explode even when you don’t want or expect them to,” said acting Lt. Anthony Mangini, Walnut Creek Police Bomb Squad. “The fire and injury danger from illegal fireworks poses extreme risks for civilians, and also for first responders and our hazardous devices technicians who must dispose of them.”

While public fireworks events around the county have been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials strongly discourage residents from attempting to replace these events with illegal consumer fireworks use. Instead, residents are encouraged to watch a fireworks display on television or online video, use safe and readily available glow-stick products, or many other ways of celebrating.

Fire and law officials urge residents to protect their homes, families and neighborhoods by reporting all use of illegal fireworks immediately to their local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency phone line. In cases where immediate risk to life or property exists, 911 should be called.

In addition to fire danger, there are significant risks of serious injury or death. On July 5th, 2018, an Antioch resident was severely injured handling a supposedly “Safe & Sane” firework discarded at his place of business. Nationwide, thousands are injured annually, more than half are under 15.

Last year, illegal fireworks use in the County sparked preventable vegetation fires threatening lives and structures and straining emergency resources needed for higher priority fire and medical emergencies.

For more on protecting homes and businesses from wildfires, visit www.cccfpd.org/wildfireprep.

About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service leader — Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to more than a million people across its 304 square-mile District area, and through mutual aid, in and around the 20 cities and unincorporated communities of Contra Costa County, California. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through its unique sub-contractor Alliance model. In 2019, the District responded to nearly 78,000 fire and EMS emergencies and dispatched some 95,000 ambulances, providing exert medical care on more than 74,000 ambulance transports. The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property and the environment.

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