“It varies from year to year, but we average about five calls a night on the Fourth of July related to firework incidents,” Fire Chief Jeff Gregory said. “With the Fourth being on a Friday this year, and the current drought situation, we are anticipating a busier weekend than usual.”
11 fireworks booths opened in the city this year, each inspected to meet the requirements of the City of Patterson and the State Fire Marshal. Modified and illegal fireworks do show up, and those confiscated by the Fire Department are handed off to the Stanislaus County Sherriff’s Department, who discards them at a safe, undisclosed location, according to Gregory.
Patterson’s number of illegal fireworks grows as its population does.
“It appears there are more each year,” Gregory said. “Every year it seems there is something new that shows up.”
The penalties for breaking regulations, such as selling unsanctioned or modified fireworks, or for being in possession of said fireworks, can include a fine of no more than a $100, imprisonment in the city or county jail for no more than 25 days, or both a fine and jail time.
Gregory and the Patterson Fire Department have a few tips to share for enjoying our Independence Day safely:
• Parents and caretakers should always closely supervise teens if they are using fireworks.
• Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
• Fireworks should only be used outdoors.
• Always have water ready if you are using fireworks.
• Know your fireworks; read the caution label before igniting.
• Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
• Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
• Only light one firework at a time.
• Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Avoid using homemade fireworks or illegal explosives: They can kill you!
• Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
• Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor, fire resistant garbage can away from buildings and flammable materials.
• Use Common Sense. Before you light or modify a firework, think what the outcome could be.
Nathan Duckworth can be reached at 209-892-6187 or Nathan@PattersonIrrigator.com