“We hit numerous areas in town, and we didn’t even make a dent,” said the fire department head.
This year, the city focused on confiscating fireworks instead of writing citations, because the Patterson Fire Department did not have the manpower to do both, Hall said. Citations take a while to write, he explained, so firefighters decided to take as many illegal pyrotechnics off the street as they could.
A citation carries a $1,000 fine, he said.
“We don’t have the staff to confiscate all of the fireworks or cite everyone,” he said, adding that many people said they did not know the fireworks were illegal to use, while others saw emergency vehicles coming and hid the fireworks in their homes.
Any firework that explodes or flies is illegal by state law, Hall said. Such pyrotechnics can be hazardous, he said.
“Vegetation itself is dry,” he said. “We have wooden fences, and a large area of the city still with wooden shake roofs.”
Fireworks that are shot up into the air can fall and smolder, catching many things on fire, Hall said.
“They can lodge in a roof shingle and catch a roof on fire,” he said.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010 alone, about 15,500 reported fires were started by fireworks and 8,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.
NFPA statistics also indicate there are more fires on a typical Fourth of July than any other day of the year. In 2010, fireworks-related fires resulted in eight reported deaths and 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage.
Hall said there were a couple of minor fires this July 4 within Patterson city limits: a vegetation fire at American Eagle Avenue just south of Sperry Avenue and another fire on Angora Street that caught a fence and trashcan on fire. No one was injured, and no homes or other structures burned, Hall said.