As Independence Day nears and people all over Santa Clara County get ready to light up the night, Gilroy Police and Fire departments brace themselves for another season of arrests and fire hazards.
As the only city in the county that allows fireworks, Gilroy executes a stringent fireworks regulation that limits their sales to approved to nonprofit community organizations during a four day window.
From July 1 through Monday, July 4 at midnight, Gilroy residents (and only Gilroy residents - proof of residency is required) can purchase legal fireworks at one of 16 approved sales stands scattered around the city.
The fireworks may not be used in any unincorporated areas outside the city, nor at any public parks, commercial parking lots or any area adjacent to wildlands (such as Country Estates Subdivision on Mantelli Drive and Hecker Pass Road west of Santa Theresa).
On Monday, Gilroy Fire Marshall, Jackie Bretschneidersent, sent out a postcard to every mailing address in Gilroy, informing residents of Gilroy's “safe and sane” fireworks regulations.
“Gilroy has a very real problem because we do allow some fireworks,” Bretschneidersent said. “That's a very difficult thing to actually go out and enforce.”
Bretschneidersent said during the evening hours of July 4, the city plans to have nearly every Gilroy police officer on patrol.
To be considered “safe and sane,” the firework must have a state fire marshal approval stamp on it, and must not leave the ground or explode.
The main problem, Bretschneidersent said, is the difficulty of regulating illegal fireworks sales, since most illegal fireworks are purchased out of state or out of the country.
The consequence of being caught with illegal fireworks is a city-issued citation for $250, or a misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine, depending on the circumstances.
Last year, Bretschneidersent said the city issued 12 citations, not including misdemeanors, which she doesn't keep track of.