Safe and sane fireworks sales debated

July 4, 2009 7:30:02 PM PDT
There are still a few cities in the Bay Area that sell safe and sane fireworks. But even there, the debate over safety continues.

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When it comes to the Fourth of July, it's all about tradition and Pacifica is no different.

It's one of only two San Mateo County cities that sells safe and sane fireworks. The proceeds raise tens of thousands of dollars for pacific's non profits.

Oceana High School uses the money for supplies and field trips.

"This is our major fundraiser for the school year and with the cut backs there's absolutely no money for any extras," said Laurie Hughes.

Sales this Fourth of July are high and as usual, locals are their biggest customers.

"There's some people that really like to put on their own show," said Pacifica resident Mike Franco.

But those are the ones police and fire officials worry about.

"We are one of the few cities including San Bruno that allows legal fireworks and consequently we do experience a large amount of illegal fireworks being used as well," said Sgt. Joe Spanheimer from Pacifica Police Department.

Last year, Pacifica police arrested 25 people for using illegal fireworks. This holiday, the entire department will be patrolling the streets looking for anyone setting them off, or misusing the safe and sane ones.

"I think the use of legal fireworks provides a little bit of camouflage for people to bring the illegal fireworks in," said Sgt. Spanheimer.

That's one reason why the Pacifica City Council debates their decision to allow some fireworks in the city every year, and this year was no different.

But they say an eight percent fee added to every fireworks sale is enough to off-set the overtime costs for the police and fire departments.

"We probably as a city break even which means how much do you value the good will to our non profits and that's pretty important in a community like this," said City Council member Ann Nihart

The fine for using illegal fireworks is $1,000.

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