Stiffer penalties to come into effect for illegal fireworks in Fresno

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Friday, May 13, 2022
Stricter penalties to come into effect for illegal fireworks in Fresno
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Fourth of July celebrations may be months away, but Fresno police and fire crews now have another tool to crack down on illegal fireworks.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The explosive consequences of illegal fireworks will now be met with stiffer penalties.

Thursday, the City Council adopted changes to Fresno's fireworks ordinance that will now hold homeowners, tenants and party hosts accountable for reckless fourth of July celebrations.

Deputy Fire Marshal Jay Tracy says the city has operated under the same fine structure for about 12 years. He says, "The ordinance really gives us another tool that might have a little more latitude to enforce illegal fireworks in the city of Fresno."

The revisions to the ordinance nearly double the existing $1,250 fine to $2,000.

The amount increases with repeat offenses within the same calendar year.

Tracys says, "It is more than just a fine. The fine is just a reminder that there are consequences."

The move for harsher penalties comes in light of worsening drought conditions and a record number of fires in the city.

Last year on Fourth of July alone, crews responded to 125 fires.

"Every year, people have their homes damaged or vehicles damaged or we've had homes burn down because of illegal fireworks," Tracy said. "There are injuries every year that stem from illegal fireworks."

Police hope the ordinance changes will help prevent those problems.

Lt. Bill Dooley says, "It's giving us a little more teeth when it comes to, not just the enforcement, but holding folks accountable. We don't want anyone to get injured. We don't want any of our property damaged."

The police and fire departments are working with the city attorney's office to determine what enforcement will look like, but investigators are already monitoring the sale of illegal fireworks.

Lt. Dooley says, "We love celebrating this extremely important holiday but we need to be doing it safely, period."

Fresno Fire and Police plan on taking a proactive approach. As for when the enforcement period will start, they say it'll likely be soon as they're already seeing the sale of illegal fireworks start up.