Photo Courtesy of Office of Councilmember Felipe Fuentes

If you live in the Pacoima, San Fernando or Sylmar areas, you’ve seen them and heard them. Every night, as Independence Day gets closer, more and more fireworks streak the sky and spread their sound.

That’s why authorities came out this past Saturday, June 20, to remind people that all fireworks are illegal in the City of Los Angeles, and in much of Los Angeles County.  The fire danger increases with the current drought.

Authorities and neighbors have joined forces in the campaign “Kut the Kaboom,” passing out flyers, knocking on doors and asking people to refrain from using fireworks.

“If you just tell people ‘No’, they’re not going to listen to you. That’s why we ask them to take pride and have respect for their neighbors, considering what the fireworks can do to little kids, seniors, pets and the dangers to your house especially with the drought,” said Betty Ley, member of the Mission Area Community Police Advisory Board and one of those in charge of the campaign.

This is the second year authorities have spearheaded the illegal fireworks abatement campaign. Besides knocking on doors, the campaign sends mailings to the locales most affected by illegal fireworks last year and the year before, asking people to refrain from using them.

Because the problem is very simple, Ley said.

“You hear them, but you can’t find the address from where they’re thrown,” she said. And by the time police get there, Ley noted, it’s too late.

 Last year on July Fourth, the Los Angeles County Fire Department received hundreds of calls just in Mission Hills related to illegal fireworks.

Penalties And Dangers

Explosive fireworks have been illegal in the City of Los Angeles since 1947. And so-called “safe and sane” fireworks were banned in 1982. Only a few cities in Los Angeles County allow them.

Those caught using illegal fireworks can face stiff penalties including a $2,500 fine for a first offense, $5,000 for a second offense and up to $10,000 for a third offense. If the fireworks cause any type of injury or damage property, offenders will be held liable for that, too.

Ley thinks some of the people who use fireworks are “people that come to California that don’t realize what our laws are because they come from other states or countries.”

Whatever the reason, injuries from fireworks accounted for 11,400 visits to emergency rooms in 2013, according to the latest data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The injuries included burns, cuts, contusions and lacerations, particularly to hands and eyes. Eight non-occupational fireworks-related deaths occurred in that same year as well.

The call to refrain from using fireworks this year is more pressing given the state’s historic drought.

“Because of the drought and the Santa Ana winds, sparks can go anywhere and they can light fires or send people to the hospital,” Ley said. “Every year we also have a lot of animals that end up in the shelter because they’re scared and run away.”

Fireworks Shows

But this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the beauty and spectacle of fireworks on the country’s 239th birthday.

The office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes is partnering with Los Angeles Unified School District Boardmember Monica Ratliff to host the first ever free 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular at San Fernando High School, located at 11133 O’Melveny Ave.

The event will be held on Saturday, July 4, and gates open at 6 p.m. The fireworks show starts at 9 p.m. There will be live performances, and food and refreshments for sale. Proceeds made from vendors will go to the San Fernando High School student body. No outside food or drinks will be allowed.

Those in the area of Tujunga, Sunland and Sun Valley may opt for the 4th of July Family Fireworks Festival at Verdugo Hills High School, located at 10625 Plain View in Verdugo Hills. Entrance fee is $7 (kids under 30″ tall get in free).

There will be food trucks, live music and kids activities. Gates open at 5 p.m. The fireworks show starts at 9 p.m. All proceeds go to the Sunland-Tujunga Shadow Hills Community Fund, which benefits youth arts and athletic programs at local schools.


Safety tips for your pets:

◆    Do not take pets to firework displays. This is a highly stressful holiday for pets, especially dogs. The exploding fireworks are magnified for them and create extreme nervousness and anxiety. A fireworks display is the worst place you could bring your pet.

◆    Keep your pets inside. A bedroom with the windows closed or cracked open, or in a crate in a quiet room is perfect. DO NOT leave your dog in the back yard or on the balcony. Dogs have been known to jump out windows, over fences and off balconies, sustaining great injuries or even death.

◆    Leave the radio or TV on if you are leaving your pet alone on the Fourth of July. The music or TV noise will help drown out some of the fireworks.

◆    Make sure your pet has proper identification on them. Many escaped or lost pets will end up in shelters or picked up by good samaritans, so having an ID on your pet will help get them back to you sooner. Shelters also have to euthanize current shelter animal residents to accommodate the amount of pets that come in. To avoid this all together, make sure your pet is secure before you leave your home.

◆    Limit the amount of people food your pet consumes during festivities. Seasonings and sauces can cause an upset stomach and, in some cases, poisoning.