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El Centro’s amended Fireworks Ordinance to hold property owners accountable if illegal fireworks are used

El Centro City Council unanimously approved the change on June 7th 2022 - News 11's Vanessa Gongora reports

EL CENTRO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Effective immediately, the revised City Fireworks Ordinance will be enforced to deter and prevent the use of any illegal and dangerous fireworks within city limits.

The El Centro City Council approved the amended Chapter 10, Article V of the El Centro Municipal Code entitled "Fireworks" on June 7th.

The major change of the Fireworks Ordinance is that now the host will be responsible for any use or possession of illegal fireworks on or adjacent to their property, regardless if they are the ones who set the fireworks off.

The ordinance says a host includes, but not limited to, an owner, tenant, landlord or property manager.

The Mayor of El Centro Tomas Oliva says this gives the city a little bit of more teeth.

"We didn't have the mechanisms in which our police could go and access right? It was very much they had to see the firework being turned on and see where it came from," says Oliva. "This now allows our police department to receive a complaint and to hold the homeowner accountable, whether or not it was them. But the fact it was done on their property, they are aware to an extent or at least they're responsible to be aware and we can assess a fine."

The El Centro Police Department and El Centro Fire Department are working together and will deploy additional personnel during the Fourth of July to help educate and enforce the new ordinance.

El Centro Police Officer Alex Garrido says civil and criminal penalties may be imposed if cited by fire or police department.

"Civil would be if there's a host where it effects a neighbor or neighbors. Where a firework is set off and something happens to the neighbors property or the neighbor themselves, there can be civil action taken against that host for having allowed the fireworks to bet set off or them setting them the fireworks off themselves," says Garrido.

The criminal penalties would be the citations and paying the fines.

For the first violation, the fine will be $1,000. $2,500 for the second violation within one year of the first violation and $5,000 for each additional violation within one year of the first violation.

Cedric Cesena, El Centro Interim Fire Chief says primarily the fire department's goal is to make sure the life and safety of people is first and foremost, second is property.

"The dangerous part of the fireworks is anything that basically blows up, moves around or flies into the air, for different reasons right?" says Cesena. "Anything that blows up can basically injure somebody severely, anything that moves around can actually end up under a vehicle causing a vehicle fire or gas fire. And anything that flies can also have the potential to cause fires down from the location."

He says to have fun and celebrate but to make sure you use your fireworks in a safe manner.

Cesena says to have a bucket of water nearby and dunk your Safe and Sane fireworks in the water after use for about an hour or two before throwing them in the trash can to prevent a fire.

Oliva says every year the city receives complaints regarding use of illegal fireworks and hopes this will help reduce those calls.

"At the end of the day there are rules and there are some people who don't listen to those rules," says Oliva.

The El Centro Fire and Police Department remind all residents to only purchase and enjoy Safe and Sane fireworks during this Fourth of July celebration. Only purchase Safe and Sane fireworks at approved vendors within city limits to ensure you buy approved fireworks for use in the city.

You can review the ordinance at http://www.cityofelcentro.org and find your nearest approved vendors at https://www.tntfireworks.com/locations

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Vanessa Gongora

Vanessa Gongora joined the KYMA News 11 team in 2021.

You can contact her with story ideas at vanessa.gongora@kecytv.com

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