San Jose stiffens fines for illegal fireworks

Anyone found with illegal fireworks in San Jose will face higher fines approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The council approved bumping fees for fireworks violators to $500 for the first violation, $700 for the second violation and $1,000 for the third offense.

The new fees go into effect on May 26, when the fees will apply to anyone who sells, uses, possesses or stores fireworks.

Illegal fireworks include large bottle rockets, roman candles and sparklers, which can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, fire officials said.

Sparklers are linked with 50 percent of fireworks-related injuries for children under 5 years old and 10 percent of injuries overall, according to fire officials.

The council also approved a pilot program that will add more enforcement in city neighborhoods from July 1 to July 5, which includes the Fourth of July holiday, when people are more likely to set off fireworks.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement:

“As fireworks have become larger, more dangerous and more readily available, it’s important that we increase penalties and our enforcement efforts. … (Tuesday’s) action is another step we can take to address the dangers posed by illegal fireworks, and both deter and punish bad behavior.”

Residents can also report any illegal fireworks through an online tool that will be available on the city’s website in the next few months.

Fire Chief Curtis Jacobson said in a statement:

“Our fire fighters have seen too many injuries in children and adults as well as house fires caused by fireworks. … We’re asking everyone to celebrate safely and enjoy Fourth of July fireworks at large public displays that are permitted and run by professional pyrotechnicians.”

Those looking for more information on rules surrounding fireworks in the city can contact the Bureau of Fire Prevention by calling (408) 535-7750 or visiting the Fire Department’s website at http://www.sjfd.org.