July 4: First responders urge people to attend professional fireworks amid high fire risk and supply chain issues

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) – There is renewed pressure from first response agencies in the Bay Area for people to attend professional fireworks this July 4th.

That is, if the event has not been canceled. The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) said the 2022 holiday comes at a time of inflation and supply chain issues that have forced the cancellation of a number of shows across the country – although APA executive director Julie L. Heckman assures us the problem is not widespread.

“The biggest challenges are with professional sign companies that organize Independence Day celebrations for municipalities and cities,” Heckman added.

She said 75% of professional fireworks are made and imported from China. Heckman said supply chain backlogs were making it difficult to get product to the United States.

However, she explained that the country’s “backyard consumer fireworks” market is booming and has grown over the past two years. That’s the growth she attributes to the pandemic.

“No restaurants, no movie theaters, no sporting events, nothing they can do,” Heckman described of the early pandemic restrictions. “They went out and they bought consumer fireworks and they didn’t stop.”

This is disturbing news for residents of Santa Clara County, where all fireworks are illegal.

Suzanne Morrone is a strong advocate for her attempt to stop illegal fireworks in San Jose. Among her reasons are the lasting impacts on her dogs and her combat veteran husband.

VIDEO: 6 ways to help your pets during the 4th of July fireworks

“We live in an old house, in an old neighborhood, and it’s incredibly dangerous,” Morrone explained. “The fear of fire is greater than ever.”

The San Jose Fire Chief reports nearly 90 fireworks-related fires over the past two July 4 holidays.

“Each of these fires caused 100% preventable property and environmental damage. If you see illegal fireworks being used in San Jose, help us hold the offenders accountable by reporting the activity online or calling the 311,” Fire Chief Robert Sapien, Jr. said.

The city of San Jose also wrote to California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Tuesday, urging tougher penalties for those supplying illegal fireworks from Nevada, in particular.

A letter signed by Sarah Zárate, director of San Jose’s office of administration, policy and intergovernmental relations, said in part: “We urge you to be vigilant in your obligations as set forth in section 12704 of the Health and Safety Code which requires the State Fire Marshal and Attorney General to: (i) meet annually to identify parties providing illegal fireworks in California; and (ii) notify such parties that California will direct federal authorities to prosecute any violations of federal law relating to the supply of illegal fireworks in the State.”

And despite San Jose’s hook, click, and report tool, residents want more to be done to deter those determined to blow up.

Morrone said big booms still rock the community, but recently she’s noticed fewer airbursts.

“I was hoping it was because people couldn’t afford it. I was hoping it was because of the supply chain. And I still hope,” she said. “But maybe they have an arsenal and they will do everything on the 4th. I don’t know.”

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