by Pearl Castillo
In collaboration with other public safety agencies, the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) warned residents about the dangers of illegal fireworks during the 2017 Fourth of July fireworks news conference on Monday, June 26 at the Cecil R. Gehr Fire Combat Training Center.
LACoFD Fire Chief Daryl Osby, along with Los Angeles City Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas and representatives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Grossman Burn Center, encouraged everyone to visit a professional fireworks show to ensure a safe and fun holiday.
Fire Chief Osby warned residents about the harmful effects of using sparklers and illegal fireworks. “Even fireworks considered ‘safe and sane’ are still considered dangerous. Small fireworks like sparklers seem harmless but they actually burn at 2,000 degrees,” he stated. “This month is also ‘Child Burn Prevention and Fire Safety Month’. It’s imperative to continue our aggressive efforts to ensure that Los Angeles County citizens are safe from illegal fireworks.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger reinforced this vital safety message in a second news conference held at Fire Station 126 in Santa Clarita on Wednesday, June 28. “Fireworks of any kind are illegal in unincorporated County of Los Angeles and many of our 88 cities. Our demonstration of these illegal fireworks show just how dangerous they are, especially in light of the recent fires in the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Barger.
In 2016, there were nine reported fireworks-related injuries within Los Angeles County, which is more than double in 2015. In the weeks before and after the July 4th holiday in 2016, there were 31 fires in the county caused by fireworks. LACoFD dispatchers received more than 3,400 fireworks-related calls for help.
ATF representatives provided demonstrations of the potential dangers of illegal fireworks when they detonated watermelons to symbolize how dangerous they can be to people, causing severe burns and life-changing injuries.
Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff Eddie Rivero added that there will be more deputies patrolling the streets this year to ensure the safety of all residents.
“Last year, LAPD responded to 1,500 calls regarding fireworks. 1,500 times, officers were taken away from their duties to respond to calls for fireworks… Discharging a firearm in LA City is a felony. What goes up, comes down. Don’t take the chance to spend the day, the week, the weekend in a hospital or in jail. It’s not worth it,” said LAPD Commander Vito Palazzolo.
The Fire Department encourages everyone to attend professionally conducted firework shows. You can a find a location in Los Angeles County near you by visiting our department website.