Serving the community since 1970

Chief shares fireworks safety tips, legal warnings

With the 4th of July right around the corner, Wasco Police Department Chief of Police Charles Fivecoat shared tips and information on how to keep safe this holiday when using fireworks and warned that the use of illegal fireworks can cause severe injury and can result in heavy fines or jail time.

"The fireworks that are illegal and nonsafe are more dangerous to use than the ones that are sold legitimately; couple that with people having weekend parties and alcohol is involved, there is always the potential of people getting hurt," Fivecoat said.

Even so, he shared that both illegal and legal fireworks can lead to accidents. "Over my career since 1974, severe hand injuries to lost eyesight can happen. Sometimes, the fuses are too short. They may go off prematurely, so you don't have enough time to get away. There is also potential for fires created by the explosives

"There are huge concerns about fireworks, particularly the mortar type of fireworks that shoot up in the air, and the hazard with those if any of the embers of those devices come down to where there are combustible materials like debris piles, wooden shake roofs and dry grass. It certainly increases the risk of having a structure fire."

Fivecoat said that adults should supervise the use of fireworks and that small children should not be involved in lighting them off.

In addition, he said from a law enforcement perspective that a person possessing or selling illegal fireworks could be subject to criminal penalties. "It could be anything from a fine or imprisonment, depending on what the fireworks are being used for or the circumstances of the case. All fireworks purchased should be restricted to legal, safe and sane firework manufacturers."

He recommends attending an organized fireworks display rather than setting off fireworks at home. "I was here last year when we had the sponsored fireworks show by the Wasco Recreation and Parks District. It was a wonderful show and lasted quite a bit. It's a good family event where you can go to the park, enjoy the activities and have a good time."

For residents who witness illegal fireworks or unsafe practices and want to report them, he said, "Our communication center is open 24 hours a day. If people have concerns about illegal fireworks, they can call the Wasco Police Department at 661-758 7266 or use the Kern County Fire Department website, where there is a link to reporting illegal fireworks activity. That is the best method because all the information is compiled and helps guide us to where the problems are."

Further, he stated that residents who experience or witness a fireworks-related emergency should call 911 and report the nature of the emergency or the injury.

His message: "The risk of injury or death from illegal fireworks is not worth it. Instead, restrict fireworks use to safe and sane fireworks that are sold legally. I hope the community enjoys the holiday and everybody remains safe and has an enjoyable time."


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