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Orange County

City Bans Selling of Fireworks

Buena Park takes action after a boy was fatally wounded July 4. Only four O.C. cities permit sales.

March 26, 2003|Zeke Minaya | Times Staff Writer

The Buena Park City Council voted 3 to 2 Tuesday night to ban the sale of "safe and sane" fireworks, a measure first recommended last summer after a 9-year-old boy was fatally wounded by a stray bullet July 4.

Council members who supported the ban said they did so in the interest of public safety, rejecting the pleas of community and charity leaders who said the funds raised by selling fireworks are their budgetary lifelines.

The city ordinance will take effect in 30 days.

"The Fourth of July we've known in the past is gone," said Councilman Jim Dow, who voted for the prohibition. "When you see something dangerous, you put a stop to it."

Police and Orange County Fire Authority officials had pushed for the ban, arguing that it was a public safety issue. The use of fireworks, they said, often escalates to illegal behavior such as the firing of handguns in the air.

But supporters of fireworks sales said they may try to override the council's action through a referendum.

With Tuesday's action, only Costa Mesa, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Stanton permit the sales of "safe and sane" fireworks within city limits in Orange County.

The potential danger to property and people far outweighs the benefits when it comes to fireworks, said Fire Authority spokesman Capt. Stephen Miller, who attended the council meeting with other fire officials but did not speak.

Fire officials say aficionados should seek out public aerial displays on Independence Day instead of the kind sold at local stands. They said the Fourth of July typically costs Orange County fire and police agencies $52,725 in overtime and related costs.

In Buena Park last year there were 512 calls for service that involved fireworks, officials said.

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