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Illegal fireworks calls down from last year, Fresno fire officials say

Fresno Fire Department Fourth of July calls fall over last year

Call volume increased over the daily average but dropped from last year's holiday. The fire department credits the police department for helping locate illegal fireworks use.
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Call volume increased over the daily average but dropped from last year's holiday. The fire department credits the police department for helping locate illegal fireworks use.

Fresno Fire Department officials have estimated that there were between 20 and 25 percent fewer calls for service related to the use of illegal fireworks Wednesday night compared to last year.

They attributed the progress to enforcement efforts by the department and police officers. However, Fire Marshal Ted Semonious said the holiday still made for a busy evening, with calls up 375 percent from a typical day in the city. Firefighters also battled four structure fires, although the incidents were not all related to the holiday events.

Fresno police, who joined in the effort to cite those setting off illegal fireworks, wrote 27 citations for the possession and use of illegal fireworks, responded to 75 calls for service, confiscated 163 illegal fireworks and issued 18 warnings. It appears about 514 incidents involving fireworks occurred after 5 p.m.

Five teams were assigned to the Illegal Fireworks Suppression detail.

Illegal fireworks are generally classified as pyrotechnics that either explode or leave the ground. Such devices are illegal in the state of California, while the city authorizes the sale and use of so-called "Safe and Sane," fireworks.

Semonious said neither fire investigators nor police responded to calls about illegal fireworks unless there was a witness standing by to provide an address and other details. He said police received about 960 calls, as well as 875 complaints on the city's FresGo cell phone app.

Police officers, not firefighters, issued most of the citations, which can cost a violator about $1,000. Semonious said generally firefighters do not issue citations, because they are not trained or equipped to confront violators. The exception would be fire investigators, who are armed and have police powers to arrest.

The Visalia Fire Department responded to 53 emergency calls for service from 8 a.m. July 4 to 8 a.m. July 5, according to a news release. Of those, 14 were fire related — three structure fires, one vehicle fire and 10 miscellaneous fires. On average, Visalia Fire Department, responds to 42 to 45 calls for service daily.

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