Illegal fireworks bursting in air isn’t a cheap thrill that five Manteca residents will soon forget.
As of Monday evening, Manteca Fire Department had issued five citations for illegal fireworks that now — thanks to San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar upping the ante — will translate into $5,000 fines.
Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd said enforcement efforts were going to be significantly stepped up last night as well as this evening through the use of unmarked vehicles.
“It’s been quieter so far than in past years,” Shipherd said.
He believes some of that has to do with efforts with Manteca Police and Manteca Fire working with adjoining jurisdictions to seize illegal fireworks before they hit the street as well as Manteca’s stepped up effort to cite violators.
Under the “host” ordinance that was in full force last year, Manteca cited 27 property owners or the individuals renting or leasing property for allowing the discharge of illegal fireworks. Under the administrative law system used, the city was able to impose a $750 fine plus get reimbursed for the cost of enforcement and prosecution. By the time those charges were added in, the average citation cost $1,000.
By the DA agreeing to make prosecution of illegal fireworks through the court system a priority, the fine jumps to $5,000 this year.
Illegal fireworks are classified as sky rockets, bottle rockets, aerial mortars, Roman candles, firecrackers and other types that move on the ground in an uncontrolled manner. That includes modifying safe and sane fireworks to do the same.
Shipherd said people are encouraged to report instances of illegal fireworks being used as well by using the “Nail ‘Em” app. He noted the app isn’t effective at helping slap offenders with fines as those who record the information need to be willing to testify. What it does, though, is allow the city to map out hot spots for enforcement in a subsequent year.
That is partly what led to the number of convictions for illegal fireworks going up from two in 2016 to 27 in 2017. Shipherd hopes people use the app this year and forward information to the department as it will allow firefighters to target enforcement next year against offenders that might slip through the cracks this year.
The app is simple to use. It has a video component — or you can shoot your video independently using your smartphone video and download it later — as well as a question asking you to authorize the Global Position System to take a reading, an audio portion to make a verbal report, a written section as well and then a form for your contact information to fill out before sending it directly to email@example.com.
The goal is to make the financial hit hard enough to force people to drastically cut down on illegal fireworks.
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