Illegal Firework Activity In Chino Continues Unabated

By Anthony Chan

 

Chino – Illegal fireworks have continued to problem in Chino for the last few years. According to Section 8.12 of the Chino Municipal Code, “The sale of ‘Safe and Sane’ fireworks shall be permitted within the city during the period beginning on the 1st day of July and ending at nine p.m. on the 4th of July of each calendar year.” However, City officials have noted that fireworks continue to go on well beyond the limits set by City laws.

Illegal fireworks are a problem because they are safety hazards that can cause fires that threaten homes and they can injuries to children, bystanders, and onlookers.

Linda Reich, Director of Community Services in Chino, has reported that there were seven recent fires that were caused by fireworks and related activities- two grass fires and 5 container fires. The Fire District also received a paramedic call for injuries resulting from an exploding firework.

Chino fines people who possess or use illegal fireworks $1000, but the fine does not appear to be effective and less than half of the fines have been paid. City officials have looked to other solutions such as charging more for infractions, but California state law sets a maximum fine the City can charge for misdemeanors. At a recent Community Services Commission meeting, Commissioner James Espinosa asked if offenders could be put in jail. Linda Reich replied that offenders could not be put in jail, and that there were people committing much larger crimes with much smaller fines.

In order to increase enforcement, Chino Police has increased the police force from 42 officers in 2016 to 51 officers in 2017. Chino Police has also conducted undercover operations to confiscate illegal fireworks on Craigslist with total poundage of fireworks seized tripling from 2016.

Although Chino Police has stepped up enforcement, illegal fireworks continue to be a problem in Chino, because surrounding cities – namely Chino Hills and Ontario – have outright banned the use of legal and illegal fireworks for safety reasons. In the past year, 64 citations have been issued for the possession or use of illegal fireworks, with 40 of the citations issued to Chino residents, 1 repeat offender and 23 citations issued to nonresidents.

Part of the problem may lie in the size of Chino residents’ backyards. Many homes along Chino Ave. are on half acre lots, and the ability for residents to evade police enforcement by setting off fireworks in their backyards makes enforcement difficult.

Residents with ideas for how to address illegal fireworks in Chino are encouraged to contact the Chino Community Services Department at (909) 334-3256 or email at communityservices@chino.org. To report the use of illegal fireworks in Chino, please contact Chino Police Department at (909) 628-1234.