April 19, 2007

Lake Elsimore CA ban on fireworks is strengthened

10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Press-Enterprise

LAKE ELSINORE - The city's ban against fireworks, including so-called safe and sane varieties, had long been condensed to a single, generally-worded paragraph in the Lake Elsinore Municipal Code.

On Tuesday night, the City Council tossed out that old version and replaced it with Riverside County's longer and more specific fireworks ban, which will become law in Lake Elsinore when the ordinance takes effect in 30 days.

The City Council introduced the seven-page ordinance at its March 27 meeting. On Tuesday, the council adopted it unanimously and without comment.

"This gives us the tools to provide better enforcement," city spokesman Mark Dennis said after the meeting.

The fireworks ban imposes fines ranging from $500 to $1,000 for anyone convicted of using, possessing, storing, manufacturing, selling, transporting, igniting, discharging or exploding any fireworks, whether they be illegal varieties or others sold in many Southern California cities.

Offenders also could face a one-year term in Riverside County jail if convicted.

Further, under the ordinance, a property owner also will be held responsible if he or she allows people to engage in any of the banned activity on his or her property.

The ordinance will be in place by summer, when fireworks usage peaks.

Earlier this year, the Western Riverside Council of Governments urged local cities, including Lake Elsinore, to incorporate Riverside County's detailed fireworks ordinance into their own municipal codes, Dennis said.

The new regulations will enhance the "preservation of the public peace, health (and) safety," the ordinance states, citing the danger of injury, especially to children. "Fireworks are often stored without safety precautions in residential neighborhoods," it said.

"Fireworks often come from countries where safety regulations for making fireworks are not as stringent as those for fireworks manufactured in the United States," the code states.

The ordinance spells out specific ingredients that are banned, including arsenic sulfide, phosphorous and boron, and types of fireworks that fall under the new prohibitions, including skyrockets that "rise into the air during discharge," Roman candles or similar devices that "discharge balls of fire into the air," chasers that "dart or travel about the surface of the ground during discharge," and any sort of firework made to explode in a manner unexpected by the user.

The ordinance allows a few categories of people to use fireworks -- most notably licensed pyrotechnic operators who have been granted a permit from the fire chief and the sheriff to stage a public fireworks display, such as those sponsored by cities on Independence Day.

On the permit application, the pyrotechnician must detail the site where the fireworks will be discharged and make a diagram of the area, showing the location of trees, telephone lines, buildings, roads and spectators.

Reach Mary Bender at 951-893-2103 or mbender@PE.com

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