Long after the last burst of fireworks fill the skies over Manteca at least a dozen property owners will be forking over $1,500 or so to the city.
That’s the minimum number each year getting slapped with a $1,000 fine plus $500 in administrative costs for allowing illegal fireworks to be launched from their yards in violation of state, county, and local laws.
Fire Chief Dave Marques noted extra police patrols are teaming up with the department’s fire marshal on the Fourth of July and the days leading up to the holiday patrolling neighborhoods looking for illegal fireworks being launched.
They won’t be driving around in fire trucks.
Manteca stopped that practice years ago.
That’s after firefighters attempted to seize illegal fireworks being launched from Mayors Park.
An angry mob formed and confronted firefighters trying to do their job. The firefighters retreated and called police for back up.
Marques said the city subsequently stopped the practice of on-duty firefighters on engines patrolling the streets for illegal fireworks.
You will, though. see more fire engines out and about over the three-day weekend. That’s because 9-1-1 calls soar due to grass, vegetation, house, and dumpster fires caused by legal and illegal fireworks alike.
If the odds catch up with Manteca again firefighters will also respond to incidents where someone sustains permanent eye or ear damage, loses a finger or is seriously burned by the improper use of fireworks.
Manteca nails the illegal use of fireworks through the administrative law process as well as documentation procedures that have been upheld in court. It is based on the owner of the host property being held legally responsible for what their yards are being used for.
Police will use GPS and video footage to document the physical address of places where they observe the use of illegal fireworks.
It’s fairly straight forward as one of the biggest determinations of what makes fireworks illegal — even legal ones modified to do the same — are the fact they are airborne.
The process doesn’t even require the issuing of a formal ticket immediately after it being observed. Instead, the footage is reviewed in the days following the incident.
If time and date stamps, GPS markings and footage all meet the requirements to be upheld under legal review, a citation is mailed to the property owner.
Marques said residents can do the same thing using the Nail ‘Em app and forwarding it to the police or fire department. The big difference, however, is citizens would have to go on record as to what they observed — just like a police officer — to make the citation and administrative charges stick.
The app can still be used to report locations of illegal firework activities.
Given the number of incidents going on some nights the police nay not be able to make it in time to the location to record the illegal activity.
However, address data provided by callers or those communicating via the app are used by law enforcement to map out the most problematic neighborhoods so they can be targeted with patrols to increase the probability of their illegal activity being documented and lead to a $1,500 overall penalty.
Manteca in the last six years has successfully cited almost 90 property owners under the host law.
Marques conceded some offenders who spend $10,000 to $15,000 buying illegal fireworks are unfazed by the $1,500 consequence of being fined and slapped with administrative costs.
It is a major hit, though, for most people.
The Nail ‘Em app can be downloaded from Apple and Android app stores.
Illegal fireworks are anything which explodes (such as firecrackers, cherry bombs, M-80s, M100s, etc.) or anything which leaves the ground (bottle rockets, roman candles, mortars, etc.). These types of fireworks are not "Safe and Sane" compliant and are illegal to possess and/or use. Modifying a "Safe and Sane" firework to explode or leave the ground would also make it illegal.
Due to the extremely high volume of fireworks calls the police department receives each year, they ask for your assistance in using the app whenever possible instead of calling the police department. In the event you don't have the app or prefer to call, you may do so by calling the Manteca Police Department directly at 209-456-8100.
You are asked not to call 911 for fireworks unless there is an immediate threat to life or property such as a fire, injury, or other hazard.
Toi contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com