July 1, 2007

Pressure in Napa Valley CA to ban fireworks

Well maybe the direst season in 130 years in LA County will cause more people to come to their senses...naaaa...we need the fund raising. To hell with the fire danger....

One fire only costs anywhere from 200,000 to a couple million to put out. No big deal. At least little Johnny will have a new baseball uniform purchased with fireworks cash. This sounds like a story line for a Simpson's episode.


St. Helena fire chief wants ban on fireworks sales
Register Staff Writer
Thursday, June 28, 2007

St. Helena Fire Chief Kevin Twohey is not a happy man. The Upvalley city is only place in Napa County were people can buy and shoot off fireworks.

Every other square inch of the county is off limits for fireworks, even if they are purchased in St. Helena.

Although the St. Helena City Council has approved the sales of fireworks by the American Legion and Lions Club, saying it is their biggest fundraiser, Twohey calls it “ludicrous to be selling fireworks in the midst of fire season.”

“The City Council says the money the nonprofits make from fireworks sales goes back to the community. But there are other ways — safe ways — to raise money,” Twohey said. “I have nothing against fireworks. But let’s sell them in January when we are not in fire season. And if you have your heart set on fireworks for the Fourth of July, go to one of the many sanctioned fireworks shows in the county.”

Dave Curtin, commander of the St. Helena American Legion Post, has been selling fireworks for the past 45-50 years and in the 26 years that he personally has been involved in selling the fireworks; he “has never experienced one problem or difficulty.”

“I am doing what the City Council wants,” said Twohey. “They made the decision, but I am not happy about it. I’m the fire chief, and I know it only takes an instant for a person to lose their home or life or be seriously injured from fireworks. I’ll guarantee you that the other fire chiefs in the county are not happy my city is selling fireworks.

Twohey said one of the public’s biggest misconceptions is that as long as you buy the fireworks in St. Helena, you can shoot them off anywhere in the county.

“No, no, no only within the city limits of St. Helena,” he said.

There are two fireworks stands in St. Helena that are operated by the nonprofit groups. Both are on Highway 29, one by the high school and the other by Taylor’s Refresher. Each booth has a map posted showing the area where the fireworks can be ignited. Each person who buys fireworks is given a brochure — in English and Spanish — containing the information where the fireworks can be shot off.

Safe and sane fireworks are those that don’t shoot up in the air or explode. “We encourage everyone to read the brochures on the proper usage of the fireworks,” Curtin said.

Napa Fire Capt. Sharon Quick said the city’s public safety has taken a “no tolerance” approach to shooting off fireworks within the city limits.

“Anyone we find shooting off fireworks in the city limits will be issued a citation, which can cost them anywhere from $100 to $500. No one gets a break. We will confiscate the fireworks as well,” Quick said.

Quick said, firefighters will be working with police officers patrolling the city, zeroing in on the urban areas, such as Westwood and Alston parks.

“No one gets a break this year. The fire conditions are far too dry. If someone starts a fire using fireworks, they can be arrested and held accountable for suppression costs as well,” Quick said.

The city fire station will also have an extra engine company on duty on the Fourth for emergency response, said Napa Fire Capt. Scott Sedgley.

Sedgley warned of the dangers of fireworks.

“Even safe and sane fireworks can be dangerous. A number of years ago, several students were severely burned when a bag of safe and sane fireworks they had inside their car ignited,” Sedgley said. “Even sparklers generate enough excessive heat which can cause serious burns.”

Napa Police Cmdr. Jeff Troendly said the department is gearing up for the anticipated large crowd expected to participate in the Fourth of July downtown festivities.

“We are expecting about 15,000 people. We will have extra patrols on duty that night. They will be in patrol cars, on foot and on motorcycles. We are not going to tolerate anyone using fireworks. They will be cited and depending on what type of fireworks they have, they could be arrested and taken to jail,” Troendly said.

David Stoneberg of the St. Helena Star contributed to this story.

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