Illegal fireworks campaign leads to hundreds of citations, pounds of explosives confiscated
September 12, 2023
The County of Riverside’s strong enforcement stance to fizzle illegal fireworks was in full force during the Fourth of July holiday.
As part of a three-year-old county ordinance (858.2) allowing for civil penalties for illegal fireworks, county teams from the sheriff’s department, fire department and code enforcement department wrote more than 250 citations, including one arrest and the seizure of more than 830 pounds of explosives.
Additionally, the Sheriff’s department received more than 3,200 fireworks related calls. For comparison, the department received 4,800 fireworks related calls in 2021, a reduction in calls by 33 percent.
“The reduction in calls from residents is a positive indication that our strong enforcement and advertising is working,” said Chair Kevin Jeffries, First District Supervisor. “We still have plenty of work to do to stomp out illegal fireworks, however, I’m very pleased that folks appear to be getting the message. Posing a threat to life and property won’t be tolerated in Riverside County.”
This year, new advertisements were developed for the “If You Light It, We’ll Write It” campaign focusing on how destructive illegal fireworks are for people, pets and property. The advertising campaign ran on digital and traditional media platforms, including digital freeway boards, local newspapers, broadcast radio, audio streaming, social media and digital display banners in both English and Spanish. The campaign reached 4.6 million people.
Working in collaboration, the sheriff’s department, fire department and code enforcement department chased down tips and issued hundreds of tickets totaling thousands of dollars in fines.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department issued 187 citations, made one arrest, and took 831 pounds of fireworks off the streets, air and hillsides.
Code Enforcement staff spent 484 hours on fireworks enforcement, resulting 46 citations. The civil penalty starts at $1,000 and goes up to $5,000 depending on the number of violations a person has had over three years.
“This year with the help of our residents, we were able to be proactive,” said Code Enforcement Director Bob Magee. “As residents reported locations that historically light off fireworks, we were able to pay them a visit the week before the holiday and educate them on the penalties for illegal fireworks. All those locations were dark on July 4th.”
Riverside County Fire responded to more than 680 incidents, issued 23 citations for illegal use/possession of dangerous fireworks, unlawful off-road use and unlawful burning.
The comparison in activity year-over-year sends a clear message that this year’s operation successfully achieved the goal to reduce illegal fireworks that pose significant risk to the safety and health of Riverside County residents.