Illegal Fireworks Are a Costly Problem for California

Communities throughout the state are confronted with an illegal fireworks problem that’s exploding in terms of scope and costs

SACRAMENTO--()--According to state and local fire officials, illegal fireworks are a costly problem, that’s getting worse. “Every year fire departments across California respond to illegal fireworks-related incidents that hurt people and cause damage to property and natural resources,” said State Fire Marshal Dennis Mathisen, CAL FIRE – Office of the State Fire Marshal. “As this problem continues to grow, it is critical that we support the continued enforcement efforts of fire and law enforcement officials and on-going public education initiatives statewide. The Greater Sacramento Area Fireworks Safety Task Force is a fine example of this type of a unified partnership intended to battle the use of illegal fireworks.”

Unlike state-approved fireworks (aka Safe & Sane fireworks), that neither explode nor fly into the air, illegal pyrotechnics are responsible for the overwhelming majority of injuries, fires and property damage that occur every 4th of July. “The costly impacts of illegal fireworks range from the irritation of neighbors and dog owners over noise and debris to the serious injuries and fire danger they inflict every year,” Mathisen added.

“So many California communities in 2016, experienced rampant use of illegal fireworks, especially in cities where no fireworks were allowed,” declared Dennis C. Revell, spokesperson for TNT Fireworks, California’s largest wholesale distributor of state-approved fireworks. “Despite public demands for increased enforcement and years of collaborative efforts between TNT Fireworks and state and local fire and law enforcement agencies to increase public education and create administrative citations and task forces, the sale and use of illegal fireworks has reached epidemic proportions. Because little or nothing is being done to stop these illegal, dangerous items from coming into California, local jurisdictions have become not only the ‘first line of defense’, but the ‘only line of defense’ against illegal fireworks!” According to numerous experts, communities throughout the state are confronted with the scope of an illegal fireworks problem that requires a level of enforcement personnel that their budgets cannot support.

The Greater Sacramento Area Fireworks Safety Task Force is a safety coalition made up of representatives of local government, the fire service, law enforcement, the 378 non-profit organizations and charities who sell state-approved fireworks in the Greater Sacramento Area and the state-approved fireworks industry. Funding for the task force is achieved through voluntary contributions from the non-profits and underwriting provided by the state-approved fireworks industry. The Task Force, formed more than 27 years ago, served as a model for the highly acclaimed “California Statewide Fireworks Safety & Education Program” coordinated through the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

The task force is fielding special dedicated enforcement teams to patrol, identify sellers and users of illegal fireworks, issue citations and prosecute offenders. Local enforcement agencies encourage residents to report illegal activity by phoning their local non-emergency numbers:

City of Sacramento (916) 264-5471

Unincorporated Sacramento County

(916) 859-3775

Folsom PD

(916) 355-7231

Elk Grove PD

(916) 714-5115

Rocklin (916) 625-5400 (option 0)


(916) 774-5000

Citrus Heights (916) 727-5500

Rancho Cordova

(916) 859-3774

Galt PD (209) 366-7000 (option 1)

A new free smartphone app developed by TNT Fireworks is also expected to assist enforcement efforts by allowing citizens to assist fire and law enforcement agencies by being their eyes and ears out there in the community. This unique smartphone app, appropriately named, “Nail’em”, which debuted in a beta form last 4th of July, places the power of illegal fireworks enforcement in the palm of any Californian’s hands. It will allow them to report the possession, sale and/or use of illegal fireworks in their community along with photos and GPS locations. The citizen’s complaint will automatically be routed to the correct law enforcement and fire personnel. The reporting individual can also opt-in to receive notifications and be kept informed regarding when and how their complaint was acted upon. This Nail’em app is being provided to communities throughout California and their residents, free of charge, as a public service of TNT Fireworks.

“TNT Fireworks has been on the cutting edge of fireworks safety since its entry into the California market 28 years ago, and the development, licensing and distribution of this new free phone app, at its own expense, is just one more example of TNT’s commitment to keeping people safe on the 4th of July holiday,” commented Revell. The Nail ’em app is available today through the Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play and has been developed for both the iPhone and Android platforms.

Revell added that it is important to distinguish between illegal fireworks and the Safe & Sane ones that have been a traditional part of 4th of July celebrations in California for decades. Approved by the State Fire Marshal’s Office as safe, the sale of these state-approved fireworks support educational materials, law enforcement teams, and prosecutors in a coordinated effort to reduce criminal behavior on the 4th of July. In addition, over 3,000 nonprofits in over 296 communities throughout California benefit every year from the sale of state-approved fireworks, raising about $35 million that is used for local community services.

Sacramento City Fire Chief Walt White says all member agencies of the task force are stressing zero tolerance for illegal fireworks. “No one wants to deprive family, friends and neighbors of a colorful celebration on the 4th, whether it is in their own backyard or at a neighborhood get-together,” he said. “But those who use illegal fireworks are going to find out there are harsh penalties because we don’t want you endangering the rest of us and ruining the holiday for everyone.”

Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday, another member of the task force, points out that the consequences for using illegal fireworks are significant. “We take these cases seriously because of the tremendous damage and injuries that can occur when illegal fireworks are sold and used,” said Holliday. “Possession of illegal fireworks can mean five days in county jail, while those caught using illegal fireworks can be sentenced to a minimum stay of 10 days.”

NOTE TO EDITORS, ASSIGNMENT EDITORS AND REPORTERS: Ride-alongs with special enforcement teams may be available on a first come, first serve basis. If you wish to schedule one, please contact Revell Communications at (916) 443-3816 or (916) 952-5351 (cell).

All materials, including videos and PSAs (as well as all safety videos and PSAs produced and distributed over the last 27-years) and information on the “Nail’em” smartphone app are available online at…


Revell Communications
Dennis C. Revell, 916-443-3816
916-952-5351 (cell)

Release Summary

Communities throughout California are confronted with an illegal fireworks problem that's exploding in terms of scope and costs.


Revell Communications
Dennis C. Revell, 916-443-3816
916-952-5351 (cell)