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'Hazardous Materials'

July 05, 1987

The Commentary article by Ron Coleman (June 21) contained a number of misleading and inaccurate statements, and completely missed the mark in attempting to propose a solution to the fireworks "problem."

Coleman failed to make any distinction between legal and other, illegal, items that are bootlegged into the state. Surely someone with his apparent experience in the area of fireworks regulation is aware of the obvious differences and one has to wonder why he failed to make any distinction. Could it be that his arguments would be greatly weakened if he did?

For example, the article mentioned the tragic apartment house fire in Anaheim last July 4 as a reason to advocate a fireworks ban in California. However, the record clearly shows that this fire was attributed to the use of bottle rockets--devices already banned under California law.

The unfortunate death of a fire chief at a fireworks display in Florida was also mentioned, yet this death occurred at a public display that Coleman urges as the alternative to legal, consumer fireworks. Does this make any sense?

The losers, if a total prohibition is adopted, will be California families who wish to have a traditional backyard celebration with legal fireworks to commemorate the Fourth of July.

The fire services in California are spending an inordinate amount of time and money this year in an apparent effort to achieve a statewide ban on all fireworks. Wouldn't it be better to redirect this energy and money towards the illegal fireworks sellers and users?

They are the ones causing the serious problems, but we have yet to hear anyone advocating stricter penalties for the sale and discharge of banned fireworks. Instead, we see a representative of the fire service writing that individuals who support and use fireworks are increasingly reckless, ignorant, and outright anti-social.

We need legislation and an enforcement program to put the bootleggers out of business. Then, we encourage the fire service to join the legitimate California fireworks industry in a vigorous safety education effort to make the public even more aware of the need to ignite all legal fireworks responsibly and under close adult supervision.

JAMES MATTESICH

California Pyrotechnics Assn.

Sacramento

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