"Safe and sane" fireworks now on sale

With the Fourth of July three days away, Monday was the first day for “safe and sane” fireworks to go on sale in some Bay Area cities. 

Families wasted no time buying “safe and sane” fireworks, which are now on sale in Union City. It’s one of three cities in Alameda County and about a dozen in the Bay Area. “Safe and sane” fireworks are approved by the state fire marshal. They don't leave the ground or explode.

“These ones are smoking snakes,” said Toni Davis of Union City. “They are colorful. You usually do them during the day so you can see them.”

Toni Davis and her 9-year-old son Austin plan to set off fireworks every day leading up the July 4th holiday. Davis said she doesn't understand why all cities don't allow them.

“I think it would cause people to sneak to do them or cause more trouble elsewhere,” said Davis. “Each city has their own reasons why. I just think it's sad for the kids because they can't do it at their own home.”

“You typically have more heightened awareness just because of the fireworks that are going on,” said Battalion Chief Bradley Arganbright of the Alameda County Fire Department.

Arganbright said July 4th is one of their busiest times of the year. Among their concerns include people using fireworks inappropriately or using illegal fireworks such as M-80's or other large explosives, increasing the risk for injuries and fires. Officials said it doesn't take much to start a grass fire.

“There’s dry grass on those hills,” said Chief Arganbright. “There’s a lot of homes that are around them. It really doesn't take much more than a spark to get those to light off.”

“It makes sense,” said Stephanie Spiteri of Union City. “We live in California. There’s a big fire danger.”

The money sold from these booths helps nonprofits. 

“It buys us uniforms,” said Keala Keanaaina of Union City Football and Cheer League. “It buys us safety equipment. It provides us funding to rent the fields.”

Fire officials encourage adult supervision and making sure an extinguisher is within reach.

“They are safe and sane and go about knee high,” said Spiteri. “You have a bucket of water close by when the fireworks go out and you throw it in the bucket of water.”

There have been no major problems caused by fireworks in Union City, but in neighboring city Newark, an 18-year-ld lost part of his hand setting off illegal fireworks last year. Police and Fire plan to staff up so people see their presence and to be there in case of an emergency.