By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
The Fourth of July will see an increase in the number of fire and police enforcement on patrol and on duty in Garden Grove, Stanton and Westminster.
For years now, some residents of Garden Grove, Stanton and Westminster have wanted illegal and in some cases even “safe and sane” fireworks to get out of their cities with a flash and bang.
Crackdowns from local enforcement have helped reduce infractions involving illegal fireworks, according to police.
One such success story is in Garden Grove where reported incidents have dwindled in the last two years, according to police public information officer Lt. Travis Whitman.
In 2007, Garden Grove passed an ordinance that allowed for those found using or in possession of illegal fireworks to be fined up to $1,000.
In the time since, the number of reported incidents involving illegal fireworks has drooped significantly.
In 2008 there were 155 calls and 70 citations for $1,000 issued, while in 2009 there were 132 calls with 26 citations issued.
But in Garden Grove there’s more to the crackdown than just an ordinance.
“We’re making sure fireworks and the community stay ‘safe and sane’ this Fourth of July,” said Garden Grove police chief Joseph Polisar.
An estimated 80 police officers, firefighters and volunteers from the Garden Grove CERT (Civilian Emergency Response Team) will be out in force on Independence Day.
The patrols will focus on areas with a history of high-activity in illegal fireworks, including Katella Street between Euclid and Brookhurst Streets, Dino Circle, Twin Lakes Park at Haster Street and Lampson Avenue, Garden Grove Park, and the Buena-Clinton neighborhood.
On July 4, all parks will close by 5 p.m. Park tennis courts, basketball courts and softball fields will also be locked by 5 p.m. Park sprinkler systems will be activated at 6 p.m.
In Garden Grove fireworks sales will take place July 1-4. Hours July 1-3 will be 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on July 4.
Stanton had little problem with illegal fireworks for the last year, something that police services Chief Jeff Passalqua says he is grateful for.
Fireworks of any sort are not allowed in Westminster.
However, that does not mean the problem is over with a flash and a bang.
Police patrols in all three cities are increased for July 4, with collection points for illegal fireworks throughout Garden Grove, Westminster and Buena Park to accommodate Stanton.
“Everybody is working,” said Passalaqua.
Passalaqua also said that there was definitely going to be increased patrols in the city to help keep illegal fireworks incidents and public issues under control.
Passalaqua said that anyone turning in illegal fireworks should take them to the fire station
He added that illegal fireworks are constituted as any firework that leaves the ground. Prime examples would be mortar-style fireworks, bottle rockets, ground blooms and roman candles.
These kinds of fireworks are illegal due to the threat that they pose to users and to property.
Three years ago, a house in Garden Grove caught fire from a bottle rocket landing on the wooden shingle roof. The family inside, the Matuas, were all asleep. Luckily no one was hurt, although the house was extensively damaged.
There are only five cities in Orange County that allow fireworks in any form. They are Stanton, Santa Ana, Buena Park, Costa Mesa and Garden Grove.