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MySafe:LA Commits to Fireworks Reform in Los Angeles

Fireworks of all types are illegal in the City of Los Angeles. They have been since 1947, although specific laws related to various types of fireworks have evolved over the years.

No matter how much you enjoy fireworks, the possession or use of them in the City of Los Angeles is a crime. Possession or use of fireworks is punishable by a fine ($1,000) or up to one year in jail (57.55.01(A) Los Angeles Municipal Code). Some fireworks are considered a felony and can carry penalties of time in state prison.

Until now, it seems that the law was not only unenforced, but that city leadership were unconcerned. That’s an overstatement, as officials care deeply about the safety of those who might vote for them, not to mention empathy for the residents of L.A. overall. Unfortunately, the issue of fireworks is complicated, expensive, and a cultural issue that extends beyond the limited description of a local ordinance or even a state or federal law. Fireworks also aren’t limited to the 4th of July. It’s a summer long experience, and it frightens people and pets of all ages and backgrounds.

2017 Fireworks Survey

MySafe:LA’s executive officer was witness to a heated community discussion with residents in L.A. City Council District 1 last summer. In response to the outcry, we offered to utilize our research team to develop and share a fireworks survey. It was distributed to all 15 L.A. council districts the week prior to the 2017 4th of July holiday.

1,763 people who verified that they live in the City of Los Angeles completed the survey There were respondents in all 15 L.A. City Council districts.

Graphic showing results from 2017 fireworks survey, conducted by MySafe:LA

70.8% of the people who completed the survey indicated they were “very concerned” about fireworks, while only 6% claimed to be “unconcerned.” That’s a significant response rate. Most people (47.5%) were most concerned about M-80 style explosives, with an additional group (32.3%) fearful of missiles and rockets. Combined, that represents more than 79% of all fireworks listed. It’s worth noting that 48.6% of those surveyed believe that officials listen, but there is no known follow through, either in enforcement or confiscation.

Graphic showing community concerns related to fireworks, as presented by MySafe:LA

Once the survey was completed, and our team completed the analysis of the data, the survey was shared with all 15 city council offices, with the City Attorney’s office, with fire, law, and other entities. Our Executive Officer indicated that progress was possible, but it would, “take a village” of collaborative entities to make a dent into the problem. Our Director of Government affairs has met with multiple L.A. area council offices, and our Executive Officer has met with Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. Mr. O’Farrell followed up (and has an interest in doing so independently) with a motion put forth to the L.A. City Council.

We believe that opportunity is surfacing, and for the first time in many years, a coordinated effort to combat illegal fireworks is on the table for 2018.

MySafe:LA is taking multiple steps to support this initiative. Some of our contributions will include:

  • Production of banners to be displayed outside of every fire station in L.A.
  • Production of bumper stickers for police and fire vehicles
  • Addition of fireworks education into our school presentations
  • Posters for LAUSD classrooms
  • Discussion of fireworks during home safety visits
  • Creation of a new website to promote “professional fireworks shows” in L.A.

It’s important that people not be intimidated by fireworks. If you have any concerns about fireworks usage, please dial 911 and tell police (not fire) where the activity is taking place. If you see smoke from fire, believe there is a fire, or have a fire concern, dial 911 and ask to speak to the LAFD. Both police and fire have an obligation to respond to every call for service. Working together, we can, over time make a difference in this complex issue – we want to see illegal use of fireworks greatly reduced in 2018.

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