Every year about the middle of June, the Ontario Fire Department receives inquiries about the subject of fireworks and whether they are legal in Ontario. Celebrating Independence Day with fireworks is an American tradition, however as the American landscape is filled with more and more people and houses are built closer together and in wildland areas, restrictions on their use has become inevitable.
Frequently Asked Fireworks Questions...
CAN WE BUY, USE OR OWN FIREWORKS IN THE CITY OF ONTARIO?
Fireworks are not permitted to be used or owned in the City of Ontario, without a permit obtained from the Ontario Fire Department. This includes Safe and Sane-type fireworks, dangerous fireworks, and emergency signal devices used as fireworks. These are prohibited by the Ontario Municipal Code and the California Health and Safety Code. Only commercial public display fireworks are permitted when operated by a state-licensed pyrotechnician.
WHY ARE FIREWORKS ILLEGAL IN ONTARIO?
Statistics have shown a distinct increase in structure and vegetation fires in the 4th of July holiday time frame. In addition to the monetary loss of property due to fire, many fireworks-related injuries have been reported especially to young children. With the increase in fireworks-related fires and injury incidents it was obvious that the Ontario Fire Department was tied up with preventable incidents, possibly preventing the closest unit from the ordinary calls such as heart attacks, traffic accidents, etc.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SAFE AND SANE FIREWORKS AND DANGEROUS FIREWORKS?
Safe and Sane fireworks are those fireworks that may be purchased from fireworks stands in communities that allow the sale and use. All Safe and Sane fireworks must display the seal of the California State Fire Marshal and may only be sold and used between June 28 and July 4th or 5th, depending on the jurisdiction. These types of fireworks include cones, fountains, smoke bombs, etc. Dangerous fireworks are not legal at anytime in the State of California and include firecrackers, bottle rockets, skyrockets, mortars, etc. If it explodes, travels across the ground or in the air, it is illegal, year-round.
CAN I USE SO-CALLED “SAFE AND SANE FIREWORKS” IN ONTARIO, IF I LEGALLY PURCHASED THEM IN A CITY OF AREA WHERE IT IS LEGAL?
Safe and Sane fireworks are only permitted to be used in jurisdictions that permit their sale and use.
IF I USE, POSSESS OR TRANSPORT ANY TYPE OF FIREWORKS IN ONTARIO, COULD I BE FINED, ARRESTED OR CITED?
In May 2007, the Ontario City Council adopted an ordinance reaffirming the existing ban on all fireworks within the city, without a permit. This ordinance declared that fireworks, explosives and destructive devices were “transient nuisances” and assigned a $1000.00 fine to those found in violation of the ordinance. In addition to the $1000.00 Administrative penalty, you could be issued a citation requiring a court appearance resulting in additional fines, a misdemeanor conviction, and/or imprisonment in the county jail or state prison. If you have over 1 pound of fireworks powder, you may be arrested and charged with a felony that may result in state prison time.
ARE M-80’S CONSIDERED FIREWORKS?
M-80’s are not fireworks at all, they are explosive devices and possession or discharge of an explosive device is a felony in California. Any device that appears and functions similar to a firecracker that contains over 50 milligrams of explosive composition is an explosive device (a typical aspirin tablet contains 500 milligrams.) You may be arrested and taken to jail if these are found in your possession. Bail for these devices is $500,000 and carries a mandatory prison sentence if convicted. M-80 explosive devices are not legal in any state in the United States.
DO THE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO SEIZE AND DESTROY FIREWORKS?
California State Law allows for the seizure and disposal of fireworks legally confiscated by authorities.
WHICH CITIES IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY ALLOW THE POSSESSION AND DISCHARGE OF “SAFE AND SANE” FIREWORKS?
Each city or county regulates the possession, sales or use of Safe and Sane fireworks during the period from June 28th to July 4th or 5th. Contact the local fire department for more information. Fireworks are never permitted in State or Federal parks or forests.
IF MY CHILDREN CAUSE A FIRE WITH ANY FIREWORKS, AM I LIABLE FOR THE DAMAGES?
Not only might you be held liable civilly for any damages, you and your child may face criminal charges, as well as pay for the cost of firefighting and emergency medical services.
I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, WHO CAN I CALL FOR MORE INFORMATION?
You can call the Ontario Fire Department Investigations Unit at (909) 395-2584, or the City of Ontario Fireworks Hotline at (909) 988-3650 for more information. To report illegal fireworks activity that is happening now, call (909) 983-5911. To report ongoing fireworks activity in a neighborhood, call (909) 395-2584.