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Erica Ray, Public Information Manager, San José Fire Department
Luisa Rapport, Information Specialist, Santa Clara County Fire Department
Fireworks 'Just Not Worth It' – Celebrate Safely this Fourth of July
Santa Clara County Fire agencies warn residents of the extreme danger of fireworks
SAN JOSE, Calif. (June 22, 2021) - In time for the Fourth of July holiday, fire agencies from throughout Santa Clara County have partnered to remind residents that fireworks are illegal, dangerous and can result in fires and injuries that are easily preventable. Residents will incur fines for using, possessing, storing, or selling illegal fireworks. Santa Clara County's 'social host' Fireworks Ordinance holds property owners responsible for illegal use of fireworks on their property.
This year, the danger of fireworks-caused fires is extreme. "Vegetation is drought-stressed, dry and primed to burn," said Santa Clara County Acting Fire Chief Brian Glass. "It is absolutely critical that residents understand the extreme risk of fire at a time of the year when the weather is hot and vegetation is susceptible. We know that one spark can have disastrous consequences."
A countywide public outreach and education campaign began June 21 to educate residents that when it comes to fireworks, "[It's] Not Worth It" and can result in dangerous fires and serious injuries. Cities throughout the County will focus efforts on enforcement and residents are encouraged to report illegal fireworks use through the process determined by their home city or town.
"The Bay Area saw a dramatic increase in illegal fireworks activity during this time last year, resulting in over 30 preventable fireworks-related fires in San José alone," said Robert Sapien Jr., San José Fire Department Fire Chief. "Deciding to use illegal fireworks is also deciding to put your neighbor's lives and property at risk. Under current draught conditions, illegal fireworks put the entire community at risk. We're asking for assistance keeping our community safe by urging residents to comply with fireworks bans and encouraging community members to report illegal fireworks activity using our online reporting tool to assist the City with taking enforcement actions."
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National Fire Protection Association reports that fireworks start an average of 19,500 fires per year, 59% of which were reported as brush, grass or forest fires. These fires caused an average of five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and an average of $105 million in direct property damage.
This Fourth of July holiday also comes at a unique time when residents are enjoying a return to normal activities and social events. Residents are encouraged to continue to follow current Public Health orders and recommendations, find safe activities and leave fireworks to the professionals by visiting an authorized public display.
If there is an active fire or medical emergency, residents should call 9-1-1.
Illegal Fireworks in San José
All types of fireworks, even those labeled 'safe and sane' are illegal in San José and most of Santa Clara County. Community members are encouraged to report illegal fireworks online:
- SNAP: Safely take a photo or video of the illegal firework activity.
- CLICK: Visit www.sanjoseca.gov/fireworks.
- REPORT: Fill out the online form with complete and accurate information regarding the illegal fireworks activity.
All reports will be reviewed and if sufficient information and evidence is provided, the City's Code Enforcement Division will issue a warning or citation.
Updated in December 2020, the City of San José now has some of the steepest fines for illegal fireworks use.
Sale, Use, Possession and Storage of Fireworks Violation Fines:
|Second Violation||$2,000 (within 18-month period from date of previous violation)|
|Third and Subsequent Violations||$3,000 (within 18-month period from date of previous violation)|
Fines for the sale of fireworks can reach $50,000 plus jail time, depending on the quantity.
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The City's recently updated Social Host Ordinance expands liability to the social host, or person hosting a gathering where fireworks are used. The social host and property owner will be held liable for fines associated with illegal fireworks use as well as any emergency response costs resulting from the use of illegal fireworks.
About the City of San José
With more than one million residents, San José is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States and is Northern California's largest city and the 10th largest city in the nation. San José's transformation into a global innovation center has resulted in one of the largest concentrations of technology companies and expertise in the world. In 2011, the City adopted Envision San José 2040, a long-term growth plan that sets forth a vision and a comprehensive road map to guide the City's anticipated growth through the year 2040.
About San José Fire Department
The San José Fire Department (SJFD) is a full-service, all-hazard metropolitan fire department that provides service to and protects a population of over 1 million residents within the approximately 180 square miles of the nation's tenth largest city. The protection area includes residential, commercial, high-rise, industrial, seven major hospitals (including three trauma centers and seven emergency departments, the SAP Center (home to the NHL's San José Sharks), the Earthquakes Stadium (home of the MSL's San Jose Earthquakes), San José State University, Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport, three super-regional malls, the United State Patent and Trademark Office and wildland-urban interface areas. Learn more about SJFD at www.sjfd.org.
About Santa Clara County Fire Department
Established in 1947, Santa Clara County Fire Department is an internationally accredited emergency services agency serving the largest county in Northern California, providing emergency response to over 226,000 residents in the communities of Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Redwood Estates, Saratoga and adjacent unincorporated areas. For more information, please visit www.sccfd.org.
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