CONCORD, Calif. - Contra Costa County fire officials on Wednesday stressed the dangers surrounding the use of fireworks and the law which prevents county residents from using them ahead of the July 4 holiday.
Illegal fireworks were a hot topic, as complaints of their use have been echoing throughout the Bay Area in recent weeks, but so was the risk of legal fireworks, which are illegal in all parts of the county.
Fire Chief Lewis Broschard with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District outlined his plea with three key points during a media briefing: fireworks are dangerous, they’re illegal in Contra Costa County, and they have no place in the county or its cities.
“The reality is, whether it’s injury, death or property damage, fireworks and the use of fireworks can cause life-altering issues,” said Broschard, who noted that fire risk is extremely high right now and it’s made worse by illegal fireworks.
Officials said they are preparing for a particularly busy holiday weekend, due in part to canceled firework shows because of COVID-19 and with July 4 landing on a Saturday this year. The lead up to the holiday is an indicator, too. Broschard said there has been nearly a four-fold increase in brush fires over the past few weeks, with dozens being caused by fireworks. Additional crews have been called to assist Con Fire for the weekend.
Broschard highlighted the stress firework usage puts on an already understaffed and overtaxed fire distict. He urged every resident in the county to look after themselves by asking their neighbors to not use fireworks and reporting them if they do so. He also said residents should not assume someone has called 9-1-1 if they see a fire. They should report it when they see it.
“We’re asking that everybody in Contra Costa County use common sense,” Broschard said. “If you have or possess fireworks, leave them in the box. Please.”
Fire Marshal Chris Bachman narrated a demonstration where crews dropped a few of the popular sparkler fireworks into the gutter of a model roof to demonstrate how quickly the blaze can spread.
“It doesn take long. Within a minute you’re already going to have the fire extend from your gutters into the attic of your house,” Bachman said. “Which will lead to burning the entire roof off your home and causing extensive water damage to your entire house, even if we arrive within a couple minutes to extinguish the blaze.”
Officials asked that people consider different methods for celebrating the 4th of July while adhering to social distancing guidelines. For an extra step of safety, residents are advised to clear out their gutters and any debris surrounding their home.