Fourth of July Safety

As communities prepare to honor Independence Day, please keep in mind safe practices when using fireworks during your celebration. Only Safe and Sane fireworks, purchased at predetermined, Fire Department inspected booths placed throughout the City of Pacifica are allowed to be used during the Fourth of July celebration. The City of Brisbane and City of Daly City do not allow or permit the use of fireworks.  If the public is aware of illegal fireworks being sold or used within their neighborhood or use any kind of fireworks in the City of Brisbane or Daly City, they are encouraged to contact either the Fire Department or Police Department with the information.

As in previous years the North County Fire Authority will be augmenting staffing on the July 4th holiday in preparation of potential emergencies during the celebrations, but we need the public’s assistance in avoiding the use of illegal fireworks, which can cause fires, injury or even death and may exceed or overwhelm emergency response resources. Know that fines and penalties for the distribution and/or use of illegal fireworks have increased and will be strictly enforced.

Fourth of July celebrations traditionally present a large fire danger to citizens. They are the cause of a great number of fires and burn injuries due to the misuse and mishandling of fireworks.  Nationally more than $21 million in property is damaged each year due to fireworks.  Annually, hospitals across the nation report thousands of cases of burn injuries caused by fireworks.  Most firework burn injuries involve children and are usually burns to the hands and eyes causing vision impairment and disfiguring scars.

Pacifica is one of the few cities in the Bay Area to allow legal, “safe & sane” fireworks for the July 4th holiday. The Pacifica City Council adopted an Illegal Fireworks Social Host Ordinance in attempt to curb rampant use of illegal fireworks in Pacifica. The ordinance is designed to hold those hosting gatherings responsible for illegal firework activity that occurs on property they own or rent.

The ordinance is a strict liability ordinance, meaning the person responsible for the property (the Social Host) is responsible for the discharge of illegal fireworks on their property. Officers do not need to prove the social host knew of the illegal fireworks discharge, but must be able to testify that the firework came from a certain property.

The ordinance also pertains to “Any person who hosts, organizes, supervises, officiates, conducts, or accepts responsibility for a gathering on public or private property.”

Additionally, if a minor is found discharging illegal fireworks, the person having care, custody or control of the minor is strictly liable for the illegal activity and subject to fine.

The penalty for a violation of the Illegal Fireworks Social Host Ordinance is $1,000. This is an administrative fine levied by the City of Pacifica.

The North County Fire Authority encourages everyone to follow all directions on “Safe and Sane” fireworks, and to take all proper safety precautions:

Use only legal fireworks approved by the California State Fire Marshal.

  • Inspect all fireworks. Never use damaged or leaking fireworks.
  • Never give fireworks to a small child.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Light only one item at a time. Use a shovel and drop any “dud” fireworks into a pail of water.
  • Keep spectators at least 10 feet away.
  • Use fireworks in a clear area at least 20 feet away from a house, wood fence or brush.
  • Light fireworks in a large, safe, level area of dirt, pavement or gravel at least 10 feet square in size.
  • Have a pail of water ready to place used or malfunctioning fireworks in.
  • Keep an extra pail of water, wet towels, charged garden hose or fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies.
  • Do not point fireworks at anyone.
  • If someone is injured or a fire is started, call 9-1-1 immediately.