By Jacob Wilson and Fernando Alcantara/Garden Grove Journal
Independence Day is Monday and while the bombs won’t be bursting in air, there will be plenty of red glare in Garden Grove, Stanton and now Westminster this weekend.
Stanton residents can light legal firework from July 1 to July 4 with some restrictions. Fireworks cannot be set off before 10 a.m. or after 11 p.m.
Westminster residents can light fireworks on July 4 for the first time in 20 years. In November, voters approved the use of legal fireworks for July 4 only. Garden Grove residents are also limited to July 4.
Anyone who uses fireworks is expected to follow strict safety regulations.
“From a safe and sane standpoint, hose them down before disposal,” said Lt. Kevin Boddy of the Garden Grove Police Department. He also advises that people keep firework-filled trash cans away from their homes. Minors cannot handle fireworks without adult supervision.
Legal fireworks can only be purchased at approved fireworks booths and must have the seal of the California State Fire Marshal. Minors cannot buy fireworks.
Garden Grove Fire Department Division Chief Tom Keller said Garden Grove has approved the sale of “safe and sane” fireworks at 45 booths.
Westminster has 15 booths and seven more will be open for business in Stanton.
All of the booths are run by local non-profit organizations. Firework booths have become reliable fundraisers for groups such as youth sports organizations and community associations.
“Fireworks support our city’s non-profit groups,” said Westminster Councilmember Andy Quach.
Police in all three cities will be on high alert to combat the use of illegal fireworks and the misuse of legal ones. Each city can issue fines of up to $1000 for violations. Extra patrols will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks, including modified legal fireworks.
“Any use of illegal fireworks may receive a fine,” Keller said. “Anything that flies, anything modified or the manipulation of fireworks in any way.”
Boddy will head the GGPD’s increased enforcement. He said the focus of the July 4 patrol is city-wide in addition to previous high-problem areas such as Dino Circle, Twin Lakes Park, Garden Grove Park and the Buena-Clinton neighborhood.
The recently implemented citation has helped Garden Grove officers during patrols.
“The trouble has died in recent years because of the fine; it has definitely deterred the usage of illegal fireworks,” Boddy said.
Orange County Sheriffs will increase patrols in Stanton and surrounding areas. As in years past, the Westminster Police Department will watch for illegal fireworks. But this year officers will also be on hand to make sure residents are safely using their legal fireworks.
In case of emergency, the GGFD will have extra officers on-duty in addition to the “seven fire stations that are manned as always,” Keller said.
In Stanton and Westminster, Orange County Fire Authority’s Independence Day Plan emphasizes prevention, with high visibility patrols that cut response time. A visible presence of official vehicles, whether police or fire, is also a deterrent to would-be violators.
In addition to normal on-duty crews, the OCFA has one extra fire engine staffed until 10 p.m.
Garden Grove officials will be backed by the city’s Community Emergency Response Team. CERT volunteers are trained in emergency preparedness.
The Garden Grove chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons has actively pursued the prohibition of fireworks.
“I do believe that the pressure we put on the city council helped to prompt a fine,” David Vill, president of the Garden Grove chapter said. Vill adds that safe and sane fireworks “provide a cover for those that want to use illegal fireworks.”