This could end up being an expensive weekend for those who launch illegal fireworks in Manteca.
Manteca firefighters issued social host administrative citations for the first time ever just after nightfall on Friday. The citation carries a starting fine of $750 in addition to costs the city incurs.
The first citation was issued south of the 120 Bypass on Salmon Lane in a new neighborhood southwest of the intersection of Woodward and Oleander avenues. The same fire official that issued that initial citation also issued two others prior to 11 p.m. Friday. If other fire department patrols had the same luck as the one that Bulletin was able to contact, at least 12 citations representing $9,000 in accumulative fines may have been issued even before the three-day weekend started. Saturday and Sunday discharges are expected to be even worse with the use of illegal fireworks reaching a crescendo on Monday evening.
The information the Bulletin obtained for Friday evening before press-time did not include any citations that may have been by Manteca Police officers
Manteca officials have made it clear there will be no grace period. Also those already cited could be cited again if caught using legal fireworks again. Subsequent citations carry fines of $1,000 apiece.
Fire officials along with law enforcement are fielding emails and submissions via the “Nail ‘Em” app directing them to areas where illegal fireworks are being used.
In previous years before the new ordinance was put in place, public safety officials would respond to a complaint and would have to either witness someone launching fireworks or ask who did which never prompted anyone to fess up. Now they don’t need to make their presence known and can simply wait after they respond form a distance that doesn’t give them away, video an illegal launch and issue the citation that goes to whoever is in control of the property — a renter or the home owner.
When Clovis last July Fourth switched to the host ordinance to assign responsibility for the discharge of illegal fireworks police officers who rode bicycles around the community on the evening of Independence Day issued 30 citations that resulted in $1,000 fines for each offender caught.
Unlike Manteca that made the first offense $750 and subsequent offenses $1,000, Clovis opted to impose the maximum fine allowed under state law for the initial infraction.
Manteca is deploying all on-duty firefighters over the next three days as well as stepped up police staffing to help enforce the local and state laws that prohibit the possession and use of illegal fireworks
Manteca authorities are encouraging residents to download the app “Nail’Em” available from various app stores to help make those responsible for discharging illegal fireworks in the city pay the price.
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.
You can say you want to make the report anonymously but that reduces the chance of a successful prosecution as police or firefighters would have to be dispatched to see if they can witness an illegal discharge at the address in question. But if you fill out your name and contact, authorities will be able to process the information and with your willingness to sign that you witnessed what happened to collaborate illegal fireworks use, the responsible parties are well on their way to getting at least a $750 fine.
At least a $750 fine because every subsequent violation — an hour later or repeatedly over the course of multiple days — will add a $1,000 fine for each documented occurrence.
The city’s government outreach system can be used as well as calling the police department’s non-emergency number.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org