FIREWORKS ACTION COMMUNITY COALITION FACC Fights Back Against Pre 4th of July Fireworks

SEPT21FACC1Every year before July 4th, Nextdoor (the Facebook like service for community groups) lights up with complaints about pre-July 4th fireworks.  In 2020, a group of residents decided to get together to finally do something about it.

Tracy Nadeau, Addison Wright, and the TNN editor Dianne V. Lawrence formed the Fireworks Action Community Coalition (FACC).  Coalition because they realized nothing could be done without the assistance of LAFD, LAPD, and the Council Office. Trying to stop the fireworks on the 4th of July was tilting at windmills, but they believed there had to be systemic change to the response from the city toward pre-4th of July fireworks.  The current outdated response? Call the generic help line 311, spend an hour on the phone waiting to get through, have your complaint funneled to the appropriate police station, which eventually sends someone out hours later. It is difficult to catch someone in the act, which is why a response has low priority, but they are obligated to respond to all calls for help. But this system was clearly not working, let alone stemming the tide. Rather than starting a week before, the fireworks were now starting up to at least two months prior to July 4th and bomb-like explosions had been added.

The plan was to focus on discouraging rather than catching. We decided it was important to have a dedicated phone line for fireworks complaints that would immediately identify areas (clusters) the calls were coming from. Police patrols would then be sent out to regularly patrol those specific areas.  Firetrucks could also be dispatched while waiting for emergency calls. Research discovered that Pasadena already had a very similar plan in place and it had the intended effect.  Research also discovered the Hermon Neighborhood Council had the signs we felt were needed and contact with them revealed they had worked with their community city attorney liaison to send out warning letters from the city to residents identified on the hotline as repeat offenders.  We added that into our plan.  Their city attorney also engaged the local young police cadets to place warning flyers on doorsteps of communities that were identified as clusters.  Community awareness was next and we were alerted that one person putting up a sign letting people know what number they could call anonymously, made that person a target so we planned to distribute the signs with a minimum of five to a block to send a strong message that the community was watching and committed to reporting.  We had a distribution plan.

The next step was to get the City on board and in February of 2021, the new CD10 Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas agreed to help and create a pilot program within certain boundaries in CD10. Unfortunately the two deputies he assigned to the program dragged their feet and after an initial meeting where it appeared everyone was on the same page…little action resulted.

During this time there was a fireworks explosion in a private home in San Bernardino that killed a few people.  Within two weeks, San Bernardino had implemented Pasadena’s  procedures.

FROM: https://abc7.com/ontario-explosion-illegal-fireworks-reporting-system-san-bernardino-county/10499445/ 

"The system will offer the public another avenue to report the use, sales and storage of illegal fireworks. Once a complaint is made, local law enforcement will follow up and investigate. All reports will be filed into a database to help assist the fire department and law enforcement with targeted enforcement.

"Law enforcement and fire will team up during our fireworks patrols leading up to the Fourth of July and we will utilize our contactless citation program," said Fire Marshall Mike Horton with San Bernardino County Fire.

Property owners could face hefty fines if their guests are found using fireworks.

"That app pinpoints that activity and automatically issues a citation for $1,250 to the property owner. So, we are telling property owners this year you are responsible for what happens on your property," said Horton.

SEPT21FACC2This put an exclamation mark on our effort and we were excited that the heavy lifting of creating a new program had been done and it was just a matter of importing their model.  But time was running out as we inched closer to the July 4th event.

A reach-out to the councilmember had him stepping up and organizing meetings with the LAFD and LAPD. He also introduced a motion at City Hall to research and possibly implement the Pasadena/San Bernardino plan inLos Angeles.  The LAPD expressed concern about lack of funding and the diversion of police from more critical responses, but Tracy had discovered that City Council had approved $25,000,000 for police overtime and the explosion in San Bernardino elevated the imminent danger in our community. In fact, an explosion within CD10 made the news shortly after the San Bernardino explosion.

fireworks explosion in Ontario

Unfortunately, a few weeks before July 4th, all that CD10 was able to do at that time was create signs.  But the FACC voted against supporting the signs they developed because it directed people to the old systems phone number and July 4th was a few weeks away, making the FACC's project to focus on quelling pre-4th of July chaos moot. A phone call to the number on the sign had the caller waiting 45 minutes before it was picked up.  The signs did not support the FACC plan and were a waste of money. Nonetheless, the signs were distributed by the Council Office a week or two before July 4th.  There was no comprehensive plan regarding their distribution or collection.
fireworks explosion in Ontario

In the meantime, Councilmember Ridley-Thomas’s motion passed unanimously which instructed the LAFD and LAPD and City Attorneys Office to review the Pasadena/San Bernardino plan and come up with a plan for LA. His office will be monitoring their effort and hopes to have the new system in place before the New Year's explosion. The details of the implementation are unclear (distribution of signs and areas affected),  but FACC will also stay in touch with their progress and will be reporting the progress on our website, so don’t forget to subscribe to our website for community updates in your mailbox.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put Subscribe in the subject line.

Hopefully by New Year's, at the least, the signs will have a direct line to a Fireworks Hotline that will place the address on an electronic map and we will have officers dedicated to patrolling hotspots, city attorneys willing to send letters to addresses that are repeat offenders, and the fines will have been raised.

Here is the motion:

"Illegal fireworks continue to be a problem in the City, particularly around New Year's Eve and Independence Day. Illegal fireworks usage leads to injuries and fires every year, as well as contributes to air quality issues and has other negative impacts on the quality of life of residents. The City has tried a number of ways to reduce this problem over the years, including significant outreach and education campaigns as well as enforcement, but nothing tried so far has made a significant dent in the use of illegal fireworks The City is not the only jurisdiction in the region that has issues with illegal fireworks. In an effort to address this issue, the County of San Bernardino created a new mobile application, which allows residents to report illegal fireworks usage. Data collected through the application is uploaded to a database viewable to fire and law enforcement officials, who can then direct patrol resources to areas with a high number of complaints. Further, homeowners, on whose properties fireworks are used, of properties where are automatically cited. This model may be a useful template for enforcement in the City. I THEREFORE MOVE that the Fire and Police Departments, with the assistance of the Information Technology Agency and the City Attorney's Office, be directed to report on the County of San Bernardino's model of tracking and responding to fireworks complaints received through a mobile application, and on the feasibility of implementing a similar program in the City of Los Angeles. UAV 1 8 2021 P

Thank you. Councilmember Ridley-Thomas"




 
 
 
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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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