CATHEDRAL CITY – Despite an $8,200 advertising campaign to promote the message that all fireworks are prohibited in this community, the July Fourth discharge of aerial and exploding devices continues to be a challenge for police and fire departments, according to Interim Fire Chief Blake Goetz.
Between the dates of June 28 and July 11, 2020, the Police and Fire Dispatch Center. Received a total of 2,249 calls for service. Of these, 341 were related to pyrotechnics. Fireworks-related calls accounted for 15% of all calls to the Dispatch Center.
“Fire crews and police officers can’t recall so many aerial fireworks being ignited in our city in past years,” Blake wrote in his report. “They were visible throughout the city and seemed concentrated in Districts 1, 2 and 4.
Firefighters and police officers found it difficult to locate precise locations where these devices were being ignited because many were ignited in backyards and by individuals that had left the location prior to police or fire department arrival, according to Blake.
“Firework activity was concentrated between 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on July 4,” Blake says in his report. “During this time, many residents that spoke with police officers and firefighters were extremely concerned, not only about their safety, but feared that their property might be ignited by fireworks. Several residents were searching for pets that had run away as a result of the loud explosions.”
Fires related to pyrotechnics ignited brush within vacant lots, palm trees and ornamental vegetation around residences, and included one structure fire that occurred on July 6.
Until this year, the Cathedral City had an ordinance permitting the annual sale and discharge of “Safe and Sane” devices in Cathedral City, during the July Fourth holiday period. The ordinance permitting “Safe and Sane” fireworks in Cathedral City was repealed on March 25, 2020. With the repeal of the “Safe and Sane” fireworks ordinance, and the adoption of the 2019 California Fire Code, all aerial and explosive holiday devices are prohibited in Cathedral City.
In years past, “Safe and Sane” fireworks were permitted to be purchased and discharged beginning on June 28. In a report to City Council, Blake included call volume beginning on June 28, given that residents and visitors were accustomed to start their Fourth of July celebrations on that day.
Dispatch received the following calls for emergency services from 8 a.m. on June 28 through 8 a.m. on July 11, 2020:
- June 28 – 143 incidents, 28 related to fireworks
- June 29 – 119 incidents, 21 related to pyrotechnics
- June 30 – 149 incidents, 17 related to fireworks
- July 1 – 146 incidents, 11 related to fireworks
- July 2 – 140 incidents, 7 related to fireworks
- July 3 – 203 incidents, 41 related to pyrotechnics
- July 4 – 327 incidents, 139 related to fireworks
- July 5 – 157 incidents, 27 related to fireworks
- July 6 – 135 incidents, 9 related to pyrotechnics
- July 7 – 144 incidents, 3 related to fireworks
- July 8 – 119 incidents, 8 related to fireworks
- July 9 – 187 incidents, 5 related to pyrotechnics
- July 10 – 137 incidents, 4 related to fireworks
- July 11 – 143 incidents, 21 related to fireworks
Police officers issued seven citations and made 11 arrests for illegal fireworks between May 27 and July 6.
The issue is on the City Council’s study session on Wednesday, July 22. The session begins at 4 pm. Normally no action is taken on Study Session items, however, the City Council reserves the right to give specific policy direction and take specific action as necessary.
- Fireworks: Pixaby