There are no second chances in Palmdale when it comes to fireworks, especially this year with the severe drought in its fourth year.
Fines for those with illegal fireworks began at $2500 and go up. The fines are collective from year to year. If you are caught with fireworks in 2013 and get fined for a first offense and get caught again in 2014, the fine goes to the second level. Get caught again in 2015 and it goes up again. These fines are administrative fees and there are no reductions when the offender goes to court.
“It’s not a criminal hearing so it’s not like you can take work in lieu of fine,” Captain Don Ford of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “You’re going to end up paying the money. They can even put a fine on the house if they have to, to get paid.” Since the program started in 2007, 318 people have been issued administrative citations.
”These people spend their hard earned money on these fireworks and then we take them and they are never able to set them off…It’s really a waste of their time and effort,” said Captain Ford. There are not usually a lot of repeat violators due to the stiff fines of $2500, $5000 and $10,000. “You could have a heck of a good time, for that , you could have a barbecue, hot dogs, all kinds of things you could with that money rather than pay a fine.”
Despite the penalties, hundreds of pounds of illegal fireworks are confiscated every year with 25-30 people cited every holiday. There were no numbers available for the number of people arrested each year and charged with a felony.
Fortunately, for most Palmdale residents, legal Safe and Sane fireworks go on sale June 28 and will be on sale through July 4. The city is allowing 51 booths this year operated by non-profit organizations. Currently, 43 applicants will be ready to sell come June 28th.
Even with Safe and Sane fireworks there is still a fire danger and there are certain areas in Palmdale where fireworks are not allowed. An interactive map is available on the city’s webpage. Residents can put in their address and it will show up red if fireworks are not allowed.
Due to this being the fourth year of a drought, the fire danger is very high according to Assistant Fire Chief Gerald Cosey but he said that the fire department takes measures every year to ensure the safety of the Antelope Valley residents and their property.
“The fire department responds to dozens if not hundreds of fires during this time of year, throughout the county of Los Angeles,” said Assistant Fire Chief Cosey. “Here in the Antelope Valley we tend to get a lot of them just due to the fact that we have grasses on our flat portions of the desert and brush on hillsides that are susceptible to any type of fire. Every year we throw extra resources and extra personnel to our fire prone areas…we care about our residents and their personal property and we want to prevent fire spread.”