The Bakersfield Fire Department is taking a new tack in its fight against illegal fireworks — citing people selling them on social media.
Fire Chief Doug Greener told Californian columnist Lois Henry Monday he gets hundreds of screen shots every year of people selling illegal fireworks locally via social media and this year, he decided to do something with the information.
On Monday, the department posted to Facebook photos of the screen shots and asked, "BFD Firefighters want your opinion, Bakersfield. What do you think? Shall we mail them each a $1,000 citation?"
The department was serious.
"This year, we're going to look up the addresses of the people selling this stuff and mail them a citation," Greener said.
The post went viral, with more than 500 reactions and 250 shares. Facebook users thought it was a great idea.
Jennifer Latta said, "Yes. Houses/buildings catch on fire and animals are scared to death causing them to break out of their yards, running into traffic, losing their family, etc."
"YES! Cite them via mail, or in person. Confiscate the illegal fireworks. As a matter of opinion on my part, outlaw all fireworks except at large venues, like Memorial or other similar stadiums," sad Mary Ann Dunwoody. "They wreak havoc with all animals, dog, cat, horse, cow, sheep, and so on. Too much of a fire hazard in neighborhoods."
Some thought the department should take things a step further.
"Do not mail them. Answer the ad, issue the citation and confiscate the fireworks!" said Sara Langley-Gleim.
Jerry Punt said, "Oh yes, but you should go further. I think that, as opposed to a flat rate, you should divide the total cost of enforcement as well as all property damages caused in that given year, by all that are cited. Criminal and Civil. If you play with fire than...well you know the rest."
But Greener said it's not that easy.
"It's not as simple as setting up a buy and busting them," Greener told Henry. "You have to get the PD involved and there are a lot of hoops you have to go through."
By the time the department finds all the necessary information to cite those selling the fireworks, the stuff is usually gone and the sellers with it.
At the very least, the citation is a huge inconvenience. Greener said those who are cited can come down to City Hall, or small claims court, and argue their case.
"But this year, at the bare minimum, they'll get cited," he said.