Hoping to cut down on the use of illegal pyrotechnics on the Fourth of July, the city of Los Angeles held its second annual fireworks-buyback program Saturday, providing gift cards for people who surrender fireworks at an event in Mission Hills.
“We understand the Fourth of July is an excellent time to enjoy and celebrate with families and friends, and we understand that historically fireworks are a big part of that. We get that,” Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott said during a news conference in Mission Hills to announce the buyback program.
“But we all see another side that the general public does not see, and that’s the significant permanent injuries and the devastating wildfires.”
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez hosted the buyback event along with the police and fire departments from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brand Park, 15121 Brand Blvd. She said a similar event last year led to people surrendering a quarter-ton of fireworks ahead of the holiday.
“There were teachers that had confiscated these fireworks from their students, parents — while the kids were at school — went and brought these fireworks over to us,” she said.
She noted that fireworks not only present a fire and safety danger, but the noise from the devices can be traumatic for animals, seniors and veterans.
Los Angeles police and fire department personnel were on hand to accept the fireworks.
A total of 673 pounds of illegal fireworks were collected at the event, according to Rodriguez’s office. This was a 31% increase over last year’s event, which collected 514 pounds.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore reminded residents that possession and use of fireworks in the city is illegal — even if they are purchased outside the city limits.
“I will ask Angelenos, don’t put the police department, don’t put these officers in the awkward position of having to mess up your holiday and your event because you decide to go out and buy $300 or $400 worth of fireworks and put on a display in front of your house,” he said.
Scott noted that the severe drought means hillsides are ripe territory for wildfires, and fireworks can easily trigger a blaze.
“Our wildfire danger is ever prevalent and it’s only exacerbated by the ongoing drought,” Scott said. “Our hillsides are very susceptible to a spark, so one less spark is one less wildfire. We want you to join our team to ensure that.”
In exchange for the fireworks, Starbucks, Target and gas gift cards and tickets for a Dodgers game were given out. The gifts were determined by the weight of fireworks that were dropped off.