January 26, 2007

City Council decides to ban fireworks in Fontana as of July 5, 2008; some city councils have guts

Apparently some city councils actually have guts and some fire and police departments are willing to take on the money grubbing local interests that worked so hard against us in the November 2006 election (and spent $40,000). Note this was a 5-0 vote in Fontana. Apparently they are also smarter than most voters in Lakewood. And of course John Kelly, again front and center, and once again protecting TNT's right to peddle toxic smoke and flames. Oh don't forget the "California Fireworks Safety and Education Program". That looks suspicous. Ill bet that group is packed with fireworks industry prople.

This will never happen in Lakewood if left up to the voters, the lame city council and the fireworks peddlers (the so called sports clubs in Lakewood). Score one for the little guy.

City Council decides to ban fireworks in Fontana as of July 5, 2008



After listening to presentations from public safety and nonprofit groups, the Fontana City Council voted 5-0 on Tuesday to ban on the sale of fireworks within the city limits of Fontana.

The ban will not go into effect until July 5, 2008, which gives nonprofits two more years of selling fireworks.

The proposed ban had caused an outcry by nonprofit organizations, which are dependent on the income they receive from selling fireworks during the Fourth of July season.

At the Jan. 23 meeting, the City Council heard from numerous nonprofits how the proposed ban would adversely affect them and their ability to deliver needed services to the community. There are 45 nonprofit groups in the city which sell fireworks.

John Kelly, vice president of public affairs for TNT Fireworks, which supplies fireworks to approximately 80 percent of the nonprofits that sell fireworks in Fontana, claimed that a ban on fireworks will not stop the real problem -- the misuse of illegal fireworks.

"We are curious what the city hopes to achieve with the ban," said Kelly, who added that his company offers a "safe and sane product" that undergoes rigorous testing. "We offer a product that is approved by the state of California. The fireworks that are causing the problem are illegal fireworks."

Dennis Revell of the California Fireworks Safety and Education Program reiterated that the problem does not lie with the sale of legal fireworks, which he refers to as fire marshal approved fireworks, but with the sale of illegal fireworks.

"California has the strictest standards in the nation," he said, referring to the controls over legal fireworks. "We also have the biggest problem with the illegal fireworks."

Kelly noted that the city's attempt to ban the sale of legal fireworks would harm the nonprofits.

"We all know the problems on the 4th of July are caused by lawbreakers using illegal fireworks. Such a ban would only punish Fontana citizens who look forward to celebrating patriotic traditions, legitimate businesses, and the 45 nonprofit groups in the city that depend on fireworks sales to fund vitally needed services," Kelly said. "It seems fundamentally unfair to punish all the people who abide by the rules for the criminal actions of the few who knowingly break the law."

THE BAN was proposed by the Fontana Police and Fire departments.

Police Captain Tim Newsome said the problem of illegal fireworks has rapidly escalated in the city, especially over the past five years, to the point that "it's out of control."

In a report to the City Council, Newsome said that complaints from residents about fireworks on July 4 skyrocketed from less than 100 in 2002 to 333 in 2006.

He said that despite prolonged efforts to educate the public about the dangers of illegal fireworks (particularly ones that are purchased in Nevada and Mexico and smuggled into California), many residents still do not know the difference between legal and illegal fireworks.

He said the line between the two has become so blurred that legal fireworks are now just as much a part of the problem as the illegal ones. A ban on all fireworks is necessary to ensure public safety, Newsome claimed.

When asked if the nonprofits which benefit from the sale of the fireworks would be helped in finding alternative sources of income, Lt. Bob Ramsey said that the city was exploring funding possibilities for nonprofits such as the Fontana High School Marching Band, the Fontana A.B. Miller Marching Band, and the Bloomington Boosters 4-H club.

Judie Brown of the Bloomington Boosters 4-H club said that the ban would add up to a loss for the children.

"It's going to hurt the community services we provide. The money we make at the fireworks booth we return to the community. There will be a lot of children impacted," she said.

Fontana right to forbid sale of fireworks
Article Launched: 01/29/2007 12:00:00 AM PST

Fontana has joined the growing number of cities in San Bernardino County to see the light and ban fireworks.

After two more Fourths of July, this year and next, there will be no more legal fireworks in Fontana. The city apparently was willing to risk two more flash-and-burn holidays.

The City Council last week unanimously voted to ban all use of fireworks, except for professional and civic displays, effective July 5, 2008.

Better late than never.

The action will leave Chino as the only Inland Valley city to permit the sale of fireworks.

Fontana officials chose to put public safety first, even ahead of fundraising for nonprofits, service organizations and high school activities.

Councilman Frank Scialdone, who once served as the city's police chief, said, "I can't rationalize raising money and putting people in jeopardy."

Setting off fireworks is a dangerous pastime, resulting in loss of limb and property. In Fontana, fires around the Fourth of July, mostly caused by fireworks, resulted in at least $1 million in response costs and property damage last year.

No one wants to see civic groups or schoolchildren forced to scale back on worthwhile activities because of the loss of revenue from fireworks sales. But there's got to be a safer way to raise money.

Fontana council members, who acknowledge the pain it will cause local groups to do without the money raised from fireworks sales, plan to schedule a meeting with nonprofits to discuss other ways to come up with needed funds.

"Being one of the last cities in this county, in this region, offering fireworks, somebody's doing some fundraising other than fireworks," said Fontana Councilwoman Acquanetta Warren before the council fell in line.

Public safety has to come first.

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