Communities in Orange County are finally beginning to realize just how dangerous fireworks are--including the legal, so-called "safe and sane" variety.
Going into this weekend's July 4 holiday, 11 of the county's 26 cities have banned the use of fireworks, except for public displays under the direction of licensed experts. Perhaps by next year the ban will be complete.
Each time a community enacts a ban, the needless risks of injury, death and property damage from all kinds of fireworks are reduced. It shouldn't take major apartment fires like those in Tustin and Anaheim to move cities to action.
The 1986-87 Orange County Grand Jury reports "a significant reduction in property loss and personal injury in those cities which have banned the sale of all fireworks." That report alone should be enough to provoke fireworks bans by cities that have not yet done so.
Opposition to the bans comes from community groups selling fireworks to raise money. The fact is that damage caused by those fireworks often exceeds the amount of funds raised. Some service groups are beginning to recognize that and to take a more responsible approach. The Boy Scouts of America will pull a troop's charter if it sells fireworks. Other organizations should also be putting fire safety over fund raising.
The grand jury has recommended that county supervisors and councils in cities still allowing fireworks sales hold public hearings by August and put the issue on the next ballot. Better yet, cities should follow the Irvine City Council's lead and just make the sale of fireworks illegal, leaving fireworks in the hands of experts at public displays. That would make for truly safe and sane Independence Day celebrations.