Fireworks sales began Monday in Bakersfield, and firefighters are urging caution and that residents follow the law by only buying and using fireworks during appropriate hours and in a safe manner.
Bakersfield Fire Department firefighters said in a news release that most accidents with fireworks involve children ages 5 to 14. They recommend adults closely supervise any child using fireworks, and never allow small children to handle them.
To be legal in California, all fireworks must have the State of California Fire Marshal's seal and the slogan "Safe and Sane." All others, including "Safe and Sane" fireworks that have been modified, are illegal and will be confiscated.
All Piccolo Pete or other whistling-type fireworks and Ground Bloom-type fireworks are illegal for sale or use in Bakersfield. Anyone caught with illegal fireworks faces a minimum $1,500 fine.
Firefighters say fireworks should always be ignited outdoors away from people, structures, vehicles, dry grass or other combustibles. Never reignite malfunctioning fireworks or light ones that have loose fuses or leaking powder, and always have a water source nearby.
Bakersfield Fire Battalion Chief Anthony Galagaza said a water hose or some sort of water source should be nearby because fireworks release sparks in different directions. He said the only day fireworks can be bought outside the Independence Day period is Dec. 31.
Kern County firefighters conducted undercover operations with the assistance of probation officers and deputies last week and seized more than 700 pounds of illegal fireworks. In 2012, a fireworks task force issued 54 citations, with another 24 issued by fire station personnel.
The Fireworks Task Force hotline, where people can call to report illegal fireworks use, is 868-6070 and runs from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. July 3 and 4. The non-emergency number outside that time is 324-6551.
For more information, go to KernCountyFire.org.