Visalia/Tulare

Visalia amps up efforts to combat illegal fireworks use

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, the Visalia Fire Department is beefing up its efforts to curtail the use of illegal fireworks. 

The Visalia Fire Department gave a presentation to the Visalia City Council Monday evening discussing the plans in place as illegal firework use inevitably rises at this time of year. 

Last year, the council increased the illegal fireworks citation to $2,000 for the first offense. The second offense will cost lawbreakers $3,000, and each subsequent offenses will levy a $4,000 fine. 

Those citations are tracked over a three-year period. 

While the citations are a punitive measure, the fire department is using other methods to encourage prevention, such as distributing 2,500 door hangers that provide information about illegal fireworks penalties and also the illegal fireworks reporting line. 

Those door hangers will be distributed in the areas with the highest call volumes last year, as well as the high citation areas with low call volumes and the highest call areas for this year. 

The reporting number is 559-513-8080. 

The fire department is also operating a call center around the Independence Day holiday specifically to handle illegal fireworks calls. 

Ten employees will man the call center and will relay the information to patrol units in the field. 

The fire department said having the call center lowers the burden on dispatch. 

Dedicated patrols – which are comprised of a Visalia Police Officer and a member of the fire department – will be operating throughout the community for the rest of the month leading up to the holiday. 

Anyone who reports the use of illegal fireworks that leads to a successful citation for anyone who is illegally selling fireworks will receive a $500 reward.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.