The spirit of Independence Day is in full swing, and in preparation for the holiday next week, the Ontario Police and Fire Departments are urging community members to do their part in keeping Ontario safe and refrain from using illegal fireworks.
Ontario has not allowed sales or possession of fireworks for nearly 30 years. With surrounding cities having varying allowances on fireworks, keeping Ontario free of illegal fireworks is not always easy but necessary to public safety.
“The safety of everyone on Independence Day is always a concern, and in a city the size of Ontario, our focus is trying to balance the desire for fun with the desire for a safe community,” said Rob Elwell, Chief of the Ontario Fire Department.
Chief Elwell elaborated that statistics show that firework usage directly correlates with an increase in structural fires and medical accidents. This makes it harder for first responders to get to other medical emergencies because of accidents that occur with fireworks.
The effort to keep Ontario safe, especially around the holiday, is a joint effort of prevention and response to situations as they arise. That is why the Ontario Police and Fire Departments equally focus on education about safety as well as enforcement.
The Ontario Police Department partners with neighborhood watch groups to spread awareness about the risks and dangers of using fireworks. They also try to promote the programs in place to allow people to turn over fireworks without penalty.
“Our officers have done a great job raising awareness in the community about the dangers of fireworks. We want people to make the safe choice and enjoy a professional fireworks show instead of engaging in highly dangerous activity,” stated Derek Williams, Chief of the Ontario Police Department.
For several years, the City of Ontario has posted signs outlining the penalties and dangers of using fireworks. These penalties include fines for property owners of land that allow the use of fireworks as well as parents of minors who are caught using fireworks.
Chief Williams expressed that this is an issue the community has to help take ownership for, to discourage the use but also be part of the solution when someone is ignoring the danger.
Each year, dispatch is flooded with complaint reports about fireworks causing a nuisance. Many community members are concerned about how the noise affects pets in their home, car alarms being set off from loud detonations and trash from used fireworks being left on streets.
“With the number of calls we receive regarding fireworks, it would be impossible to get to all of them in time to catch someone in the act. However, that should not deter you from making the call because we may have an officer close enough to respond immediately,” said Williams, “Keeping the community safe is a partnership with the community itself.”
The best practice with fireworks on Independence Day? Join your neighbors at Westwind Park for the City of Ontario’s Fireworks Spectacular, a full professional run fireworks display.
“Independence Day should be a fun celebration for all, the last thing we want is to see someone injured or suffer loss of property from fireworks,” said Elwell.
To report firework activity in the City of Ontario, call the Fireworks Hotline at (909) 988-3650.