El Monte and LA County Fire Confiscate 46 Tons of Illegal Fireworks; Educates Public about Firework Danger
, by Chelsea Dickerson
July 2, 2014 • 3,331 views
The El Monte Police Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department are working together to emphasize the need for fireworks safety and to discuss enforcement efforts to discourage the use of illegal fireworks this Fourth of July.
Officials from the City of El Monte, the City’s Police Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department issued a stern warning that individuals caught using illegal fireworks could face a $1,000 fine. The agencies also displayed a portion of the more than 46 tons of confiscated illegal fireworks and provided a demonstration of their combustibility by setting off some of the contraband.
“This year we are continuing to work together in an effort to find real solutions to dealing with illegal fireworks within our City and I’m already proud of the results to get dangerous fireworks off our streets,” said El Monte Mayor Pro Tem Bart Patel, who Chairs the City’s special fireworks task force. “While we want all of our residents and community members to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday, we also want make sure that they are acting with safety in mind. We will be out in full force to make sure we are doing what we can to prevent dangerous activities this Independence Day.”
As of June 24, 2014, the El Monte Police Department has confiscated more than 46 tons of illegal fireworks during 25 sting operations in several area cities, resulting in 41 felony arrests.
Over the past few years, there has been overwhelming resident concern over the use of illegal fireworks, which has led to serious injuries, property fires and an overburdened El Monte Police Department. Last year, the Department issued 79 citations and has so far collected $32,800 in fines.
Thanks to the ordinance passed by the El Monte City Council in 2013, those caught using illegal fireworks will face a $1,000 fine, which the Police Department has conveyed through several public outreach and education efforts.
“It is a priority for our City Council to find solutions to address dangerous fireworks in our community and our City continues to be a regional leader on this issue,” continued Mayor Pro Tem Patel. “I would like to thank the business and community leaders, including members of our Police and Fire departments, who have worked tirelessly to better our policies and procedures as part of the Fireworks Committee.”
Those efforts include a public service announcement and an anonymous fireworks phone line. In addition, school assemblies were conducted, street banners were placed on busy intersections and more than 20,000 fliers were distributed to residents.
“If you use or possess illegal fireworks, you will receive a citation for $1,000,” El Monte Police Chief Steve Schuster said. “This is a zero-tolerance program and no warnings will be given. Safety is our utmost priority.”
Plans for enforcement include 33 extra police officers and supervisors on patrol who will be dedicated solely for the purpose of issuing citations and making arrests on July 4, from 2 p.m. to midnight. Arrests will be made for felony offenses (possession of 100 pounds or more of illegal fireworks and other dangers explosives/devices).
Should offenders not pay their citations, the citations will be turned over to a collection agency and offenders will potentially face a lien being placed on their property taxes and the City will receive payment at that time.
Only fireworks marked “Safe and Sane” are legal and can only be used on July 3 and July 4 between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m.
According to the United States Fire Administration, in 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated approximately 8,600 people for firework-related injuries, with the majority of the injuries occurring around the weeks surrounding the Fourth of July.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby praised El Monte’s efforts to stem the use of illegal combustibles and educate the public on the dangers they pose to residents.
“Keeping citizens out of harm’s way is our mission and our hope is that everyone’s cooperation will make this a fun and safe Fourth of July,” Osby said.
Anybody currently in possession of fireworks can turn them in, no questions asked, at any local fire station.
Any illegal fireworks can be reported to the El Monte Police Department at (626) 580-2100.