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July 25, 2017
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For RP city, some fireworks are illegal

By: Katheine Minkiewicz
June 30, 2017

The City of Rohnert Park is reminding its residents with a notice that went up on the rpcity.org website last week, that some types of fireworks not sold at non-profit organization booths, such as the Rohnert Park Girls’ Softball booth, are illegal and can warrant a $1,000 minimum fine if used.

Throughout Sonoma County and Rohnert Park this fourth of July, only California Fire Marshal approved “safe and sane” fireworks sold through verified vendors are legal, according to RP Public Safety Fire Marshall, Jim Thompson. 

According to Thompson, making sure the vendor is not only verified, but that the products also have the official California state fire marshal seal is important to ensure that you’ve purchased a legal and safe firework.

“Look for the state fire marshal’s approved safe and sane seal. There is a crest (a white backed crest with five crossed bugles) on every package that should have the California state fire marshal seal,” Thompson said. “Rather than trying to go and describe each and every firework and what is or is not legal, the easiest tip for everyone is to make sure you purchase your fireworks from a local fireworks stand and support a local non-profit.”

This fourth of July, over a dozen non-profit organizations are setting up shop around town from the Town Centre, to Commerce Boulevard and all the way near East Cotati Avenue, to sell safe and sane fireworks, according to a list provided by RP City Community Development Assistant, Suzie Azevedo.

Various non-profit sellers include RC Athletic Boosters, RP Cotati Youth Football Cheer, Rohnert Park Swim Club, Credo High School, Rancho Cotati Lacrosse and much more.  

This week Thompson and his public safety team planned to visit each booth in town selling fireworks in order to validate the safety and legality of fireworks being sold.

“We are going to inspect each and every firework stand here in Rohnert Park. What we are going to do is verify that products for sale are in fact safe and sane and legal variety,” Thompson said.

Thompson warned if you are caught setting off or purchasing illegal, unapproved fireworks, $1,000 is merely the minimum fine and that it may increase in order to drive home the point that illegal fireworks and sparklers present a serious safety concern and fire hazard.

“We are looking at raising that $1,000 minimum fine, because we are really serious about this and those (fines) can be compounded and that’s the minimum, so I would ask folks to be very careful about what they are doing out there,” Thompson said.

If using safe and sane fireworks this holiday, Thompson encouraged that users still proceed with caution and take certain measures, such as keeping a hose or fire extinguisher nearby in order to stay safe since bad burns are a possibility when setting off fireworks.

  “Burns are typical and they are significant. These fireworks burn very hot in the order of 1200 degrees, so if they are going to burn you, they are going to burn you deeply,” Thompson said, also mentioning that even legal firework use can pose a threat as a fire danger. 

“This year it is (fire risk) more so than years past, because of the late and abundant rain we got. Right now I’m looking out the window and the winds are blowing and windy warm weather dries the grasses out. So I’m really concerned, here it is 80 plus degrees and probably a 15 mph wind at the end of June and we’re going into fireworks season, so please be careful folks” Thompson commented.

He also advised “to be aware of your surroundings” when using fireworks and to set them off on a piece of plywood if setting them off on grass, or going to a park with green grass, or using a concrete driveway as a set off point.

"Take a good look around, survey the situation. A lot of things could affect a real fun time and turn it into a really ugly time and I hope that doesn’t happen,” Thompson said.

If residents don’t want to buy their own legal fireworks, The Green Music Center at Sonoma State University will be hosting their annual “Fourth of July Spectacular” with the Santa Rosa Symphony at 7:30 p.m.