Is the fireworks-selling process fair?

FRESNO, Calif.

Action News talked with several agencies who say selling fireworks in just this one week alone can help support them throughout the entire year, which is why around 200 of them turn in applications to the city of Fresno for a chance to have a booth.

Some say the same agencies popup year after year, accusing the lottery of being fixed. But the fire department argues it's completely random.

Ben Flores said, "Anyway we can raise funds for this organization and it's a great organization."

Flores is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 231. For the last four years, he's tried to get a fireworks stand in Fresno, to raise money for muscular dystrophy.

"This is our first opportunity to get a stand out here," said Flores.

First opportunity, because he believes some organizations are grandfathered in, taking up spots that would normally be open to everyone.

Ben Flores said, "I know for a fact there's certain organizations that will put up a stand."

Organizations like churches, youth sports and schools. Some of which, the Fresno Fire Department says, have several different entities within the same organization, allowing them to file a separate application for each one.

Leslie Forshey said, "As long as they have a different tax ID and a separate 501c they can submit."

But the department insists the lottery process itself is random - and that no organization gets special privileges.

Forshey said, "We have a squirrel cage and we put pink ping pong balls with numbers and then we have an admin select the numbers."

It's the luck of the draw. The draw that helped select Ben Flores and the National Association of Letter Carriers, to make sure he gets a fair shot, and his Fourth of July fundraising efforts go off with a boom.

"For us to have a booth, that's pretty good."

This year, more nonprofit groups will have an opportunity to sell fireworks, because the Fresno Fire Department increased new permits from 30 to 50. And each permit is good for two years.

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