County reminds residents and visitors that fireworks are illegal in Marin
Most locals have heard that fireworks are illegal in Marin County without a permit. Often the word doesn’t get out to the county’s visitors during the Fourth of July holiday. Once in a while, even the locals who know the rules decide to gamble.
The Marin County Fire Department, Marin County Parks and safety personnel from local agencies, including the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, will enforce the fireworks ordinance that is in place to reduce fire risk, protect natural resources and – most importantly – to preserve personal safety.
Marin County Parks is especially diligent about promoting the rules at County parks and open spaces. The Marin County Code of Ordinances (Title 10 Parks, Section 10.08.020 fireworks) states: “No person shall possess, bring onto, set off or otherwise cause to explode within parks any firecrackers, skyrockets or other fireworks or explosives.” The Marin County Fair, which offers a fireworks display each night June 30 through July 4, receives a permit from the City of San Rafael to conduct the nightly show.
Upton Beach, a four-acre stretch of Pacific beach just north of Stinson Beach, has been a popular site for Independence Day fun and, unfortunately, illegal use of fireworks. The same situation has been experienced annually at Brighton Beach in Bolinas. Occasionally the people using fireworks are Marin residents, but often they are visitors who don’t know about the local ordinance prohibiting fireworks. Rental agencies are urged to notify renters about the fireworks law, and the Sheriff’s Office will have extra deputies on duty for enforcement over the holiday.
All illegal activities and behavior issues witnessed by parks and open space rangers will be reported to appropriate law enforcement or fire agencies, and enforcement will take place whether or not an incident takes place on private property or at a County government facility. A misdemeanor offense of using or possessing fireworks in Marin could cost an offender $410 – that’s $100 for the base fine plus $310 in penalty assessments and surcharges.
Marin County Fire Battalion Chief Bret McTigue said his department put out one fireworks-related fire during last year’s Fourth of July weekend, a two-acre blaze near Tomales. He said many types of fireworks are labeled as safe but remain illegal in Marin.
“With the hot weather we’ve had recently, the dry vegetation out there is especially susceptible to sparks of any kind, including from fireworks,” McTigue said. “The wind can carry a spark further than you think. We’d like people to have fun without putting others at risk.”
Despite the high fire danger during the hot and dry season, few people understand or respect the associated risks such as devastating skin burns, severe injuries to eyes, ears and extremities, structure fires, wildland fires and even death. According to the National Fire Protection Association, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks every Fourth of July.