Normally by mid-June Manteca starts to sound like Kabul during a firefight.
While there have been a few illegal fireworks launched this year, it is down considerably.
A big reason is the City of Manteca forced 27 people last year to burn through an average of $1,000 for getting caught launching illegal fireworks. That represented a $750 fine plus the cost in terms of staff time the city needed to cite and prosecute.
Last year was just a warm up. Manteca is getting serious with the Fourth of July just six days away.
San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar is teaming up with Manteca in its zero tolerance fight against illegal fireworks vowing to prosecute cases local authorities turn over to her office that will result in $5,000 fines.
It underscores the serious threat illegal fireworks are to public health and safety ranging from the fire threat during the tinder dry fire season, the ability to cause great bodily harm to others, and the extensive noise that creates serious issues for many people as well as animals.
Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd said there will be a significant increase in enforcement personnel on the streets on the Fourth of July as well as the days leading up to Independence Day.
Firefighters working with police have already seized a significant amount of illegal fireworks already this year, Shipherd said.
Shipherd said people are encouraged to report instances of illegal fireworks being used as well as use 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 in the coming days.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The goal is to make the financial hit hard enough to force people to drastically cut down on illegal fireworks.
Legal fireworks violate
sound ordinance from
10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
The city ordinance regarding when Safe and Sane fireworks — those that are legal — can be used has to comply with state law if they are allowed in a city. That means legal fireworks can be used technically 24 hours over the seven days fireworks sales take place in Manteca from noon on Wednesday, June 28, to midnight on July 4. Lighting Safe and Sane Fireworks at 3 p.m. on July 1, as an example, would be legal.
But what wouldn’t be legal is discharging them between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. because the city also has a noise ordinance that limits decibel levels at that time.
In a typical year officers seize more than 300 pounds of illegal fireworks. Several years ago they seized 2,000 pounds with most coming from a home in Powers Tract near Manteca High where the suspect had stored them in his teen son’s bedroom.
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