'Safe and sane' fireworks sale beginsBy Mark Abramson
San Bruno will soon echo with the sounds of fireworks as people begin to celebrate the Fourth of July in one of the only cities in the county where it's legal for residents to put on their own holiday shows.
Nonprofit organizations can start selling "safe and sane" fireworks at noon today.
The fireworks are also legal in Pacifica.
"Safe and sane" fireworks emit sparks and noise but do not explode or soar through the air. They are marked with a California state fire marshal seal.
Police and fire officials in San Bruno are gearing up for the Fourth by putting more people on duty and calling in reinforcements from the Daly City Police Department.
"Fortunately we haven't seen problems with the safe and sane fireworks, but unfortunately it gives the impression that you can use any kind of fireworks," said San Bruno police Lt. Marc Catalano.
"We see a lot of people who are partying, drinking and using illegal fireworks," Fire Chief Dan Voreyer said.
Police start beefing up their patrols this week, and on the Fourth they will have more than 20 extra patrol vehicles roaming the city.
The most popular day to light fireworks up is, naturally, on the holiday itself.
"Once it turns dark on the Fourth, we get lots of calls (about fireworks), but it is declining," Catalano said.
Police got 157 fireworks-related calls last year, compared to 249 in 2005. Arrests for illegal use or illegal fireworks declined from 69 in 2005 to 36 last year.
Nobody has gotten hurt because of fireworks in the city for the past three years.
"They do put off a lot of smoke, but fortunately, we haven't had incidents in which it has caused a traffic collision," Catalano said.
Fire officials advise people who use fireworks to do so in their driveways or in other areas away from grass and combustible materials. People should also have a hose handy and should put used fireworks in a bucket of water overnight before trashing them.
Nonprofits that sell the fireworks as a way to raise funds have plenty of reason to celebrate as well.
"It is a big part of our league," said Lynn Berliner, who oversees Pee Wee Baseball's fireworks sales.
Last year, Pee Wee Baseball made about $6,000 after all the city and state fees and taxes were paid. Their booth this year is at 601 El Camino Real.
This year the city is charging nonprofits $750 to purchase a sales permit.
American Youth Soccer Organization officials said that last year they made $2,000 from fireworks sales, and this year they hope to make more to help send teams to Germany and Hawaii within the next few years.
"It's pretty vital," said Angelique Presidente, AYSO's fireworks chair.
City ordinances allow "safe and sane" fireworks to be used from noon to 10 p.m. June 28 to July 3, and from noon to midnight on the holiday. Sales are only permitted from noon to 9 p.m. beginning today, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on July 4.
Copyright ©2007 San Mateo County Times. Published 06/28/2007.