Driving around Dublin, it's hard to miss the mini stores set in various parking lots with bright signs seeming to explode like the merchandise they sell: fireworks. Going along San Ramon Valley Boulevard, I passed one of these stores and seconds later I entered into San Ramon. There I was welcomed welcomed with a warning: Fireworks are illegal in Contra Costa County.
With San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District crews putting out two house fires in Danville last week, not to mention seeing photos of recent training in Camp Parks, it seems that these warnings are especially important.
Fire Marshall Christina Jamison of the SRVFPD said anyone found in possession of fireworks could be fined up to $1,000. Even if they were purchased legally, driving through San Ramon with the freshly purchased loot in tow is against the law.
She went on to say that there will be special patrols during the Fourth of July festivities and often respond to phone calls from residents who notice the illegal activity.
"We try to educate the public as far as the hazards and risks associated with using fireworks and allowing your children to use fireworks," she said. "It's a continuous education with the community, particularly when we have adjacent areas on our border that are selling fireworks."
Last year, she recalls confiscating a "considerable amount" of fireworks, as many police and fire agencies throughout the Bay Area often do. In past experiences reporting on the topic, some agencies will display confiscated items, which include everything from small firecrackers to colorful, coconut-sized fireworks.
While the explosives are intended for fun, oftentimes they result in serious injuries. An interesting statistic Jamison notes comes from the U.S. Fire Administration: 92 percent of the fireworks injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involved fireworks that Federal regulations permit consumers to use.
In addition to potential injuries, there's also a major threat of structure and wild land fires, she added. Other statistics show that in 2008, there was $34 million in property loss nationwide as a result of fireworks.
When weighing the potential risks, it seems the better option would be to view public fireworks displays instead, as the SRVFPD encourages residents to do. Plus, these professional productions put the backyard stuff to shame.