Residents of Lodi can celebrate their Fourth of July with a bang as local nonprofits can begin selling fireworks this Friday.
Lodians will be able to purchase safe and sane fireworks from six nonprofit organizations selected through a lottery to set up fireworks booths in the city.
Nonprofits selling fireworks this year include the Lodi Boys & Girls Club, L.I.F.E. Robotics, Inc., Lodi Junior Flames, Emanuel Lutheran Church, Sportz 4 Kids, Inc., and Knockout Parkinson’s, Inc.
The firework sales will begin on Friday at noon and conclude at 9 p.m. Sales will resume Saturday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, as outlined by Lodi municipal code.
Safe and sane fireworks can only be discharged on July 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. according to Lodi Deputy City Attorney John Fukasawa.
Although the period for discharging safe and sane fireworks has not begun, residents regularly report hearing fireworks being discharged throughout the city.
People found violating the city ordinance are given administrative or criminal citations, according to Lodi City Attorney Janice Magdich.
An administrative citation is issued by a city enforcement officer and violators are subject to fines.
Criminal citations are prosecuted by the district attorneys office and violators risk jail time or probation, according to Fukasawa.
People caught discharging safe and sane fireworks (before or after the Fourth of July) can be fined $250 for their first offense, $500 for the second offense and $750 for the third offense. People caught discharging illegal fireworks can be fined $1000 for their first offense, $2000 for the second offense and $3000 for the third offense.
The city passed an ordinance that permits members of the community to file a citizen citation, which allows people to fill out an affidavit and make a statement if they find anyone discharging fireworks — in violation of the city’s ordinance — and if they witnessed the use of illegal fireworks.
“We were motivated to give people more tools to use when it came to reporting these complaints,” Fukasawa said.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department along with the district attorney’s office and various police agencies and fire departments are participating in a task force to crack down on and actively pursue illegal fireworks.
“Anything that explodes, or leaves the ground is an illegal firework,” Fukasawa said. “All legal fireworks in California have a seal, which lets people know they can be purchased.”
Illegal fireworks are more vigorously policed by law enforcement because they are more dangerous than safe and sane fireworks.
As reported previously by the News-sentinel previous article legal fireworks come with risks too, said.
Lodi Fire Chief Gene Stoddart says that people need to be mindful of their surroundings and use common sense when dealing with fireworks.
“Never give fireworks to small children, light fireworks a minimum of 25 feet away from buildings, and always have an adult present when shooting fireworks,” Stoddart said.