Fireworks policy ready for approval |

Fireworks policy ready for approval

After nearly a year of colorful debate, the Grass Valley City Council has decided that “safe and sane” fireworks should stay legal in city limits during the time surrounding the Fourth of July.

That decision likely will become official at tonight’s meeting, where the council will vote on its first fireworks ordinance. There are only a few major changes to how fireworks have been dealt with locally in the past.

“The city council believes that (safe and sane) fireworks, used safely, are part of the tradition of the Fourth of July,” Grass Valley Fire Chief Hank Weston said. “This policy lays the responsibility on the people using them.”

In essence, safe and sane fireworks are ones that do not leave the ground. Fireworks that get off the ground are illegal in California, Weston said.

The current debate began last year, Weston said, when some residents complained about the potential fire danger of legal fireworks. Several residents wanted the city to ban fireworks altogether, he said.

A committee was formed to research the matter and studied the ordinances in other California cities and counties.

“The committee did not feel (a ban was necessary),” Weston said. “But they did feel the city’s policy needed tightening up.”

The major difference between the city’s ordinance and California state law is that while the state allows anyone over 16 to buy fireworks, a Grass Valley resident will need to be at least 18 years old, if the law passes.

Residents who buy fireworks will have to sign a release saying they have seen a firework safety handout and the county map of where fireworks may be ignited.

Also, a nonprofit agency may apply just once for a permit to sell fireworks. Only nonprofits can sell fireworks in Grass Valley.

“You can’t submit them under different names just to get an extra booth,” Weston said.

The city will limit the number of approved permits to nine for now, and no extra permits will be issued until the city’s population hits 20,000.

Nonprofit groups such as the Peardale 4H and the Nevada Union High School Choir and Jazz band have previously sold fireworks.

Although the city declined to crack down tightly on fireworks, Weston warned that the policy could be revisited if residents use fireworks in a dangerous way.

“If you play by the rules, you can continue to have fun,” Weston said. “If you don’t, the next step is a total ban.”

The New Rules

Some key points of the Grass Valley fireworks ordinance up for approval tonight:

• “Safe and sane” fireworks are allowed to be sold between noon on June 28 and dusk on July 4.

• Fireworks may only be ignited on July 4 between 6 p.m. and midnight.

• The minimum age to buy fireworks is 18.

• The city will limit the number of nonprofit fireworks sale permits to nine, for now. There would not be an increase in permits until the population hits 20,000. If there are more than nine applicants for sales, a lottery will be instituted to select the nonprofits.

Source: City of Grass Valley

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