Though illegal New Year's fireworks — that is, the pyrotechnics unleashed by that guy who lives down the block from you, not the fancy ones shot off that barge off the Embarcadero— are nothing new for SF, this year the San Francisco Fire Department says they're just not having it, and are ready to work with the cops to bust buyers, sellers, and users of the small-time explosives.
According to SFFD spokesperson and Firefighter Paramedic Jonathan Baxter, "San Francisco has a zero tolerance for the use and sale of illegal fireworks," including those shot off during any New Year’s Eve celebrations.
OK, so no M-80s, but what about something comparably innocent, like sparklers? No way, says Baxter. "Something as simple as a sparkler burns at temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees! That’s hot enough to melt gold." he says.
"Firework accidents cause millions in property loss each year," he also notes. So, yeah, before you light that bottle rocket you might want to consider the current dry weather conditions and SF buildings' propensity to go up in flames. (Besides, I really do not want to spend my New Year's Eve/Day writing about a four-alarm blaze at your building, I really don't.)
And besides making yourself or others homeless (or worse), there are criminal charges to consider. "Possession of illegal fireworks such as sky rockets, bottle rockets, roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers and other types that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner can lead to a possible fine or jail time in the county jail," Baxter says.
And while fireworks referred to as "safe and sane" — think sparklers, pinwheels, and other fireworks that just burn but don't fly or explode — are legal in the state of California, they are banned in San Francisco, and "are considered illegal," Baxter says. Here's the legalese, if you care:
MUNICIPAL CODE SEC. 1290. DISCHARGE OF FIREWORKS PROHIBITED. “No person or persons, firm, company, corporation or association shall fire or discharge any fireworks of any kind or description within the limits of the City and County of San Francisco. Provided, however, that public displays of fireworks may be given with the joint written consent of the Fire Marshal and the Chief of Police”.
So, if you see someone shooting off fireworks this NYE, the SFFD urges all SF residents "to keep themselves and their neighborhoods safe" by reporting the miscreants to the San Francisco Police Department at 415-553-0123.